The Art Angle podcast

The Secret Codes of World-Class Art Auctions, Demystified

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Get your paddles ready: New York is about to kick off what may be the biggest auction season ever. Over the next two weeks, as much as $2.6 billion worth of art is expected to be sold across glitzy evening sales at Sotheby’s, Christie’s, and Phillips. The offerings include a sage-blue portrait of Marilyn Monroe by Andy Warhol that could bring in over $200 million, a billboard-size Basquiat that could fetch $70 million, and Richters, Picassos, and Rothkos galore. Auctions are the most public and visible part of the art market—but they are also among the most misunderstood. There’s a ton of behind-the-scenes preparation, psychology, and game theory that goes into pulling off a successful sale. It is a game—and to succeed as both a seller and a buyer, you need to know the rules. We called in Artnet News executive editor Julia Halperin to help us decode the complex sociology of auctions.

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