The Auction Market for Modern Prints: What Have We Learned about Art as an Investment?

May, 2003


In 1977, an exhaustive data set on the prices of prints sold at auction world-wide first became available. Since 1977, the real return to a diversified portfolio of modern prints has averaged about 1.5 percent, about equal to that on U.S. Treasury Bills. The absolute risk of prints has been comparable to that of common stocks. While there appears to be some potential for portfolio diversification, the investment performance of modern prints appears to be inferior to that of traditional financial assets, especially when the much higher transactions costs are taken into consideration.

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