Database Tracks Art Auction Prices

The Art Newspaper:  How Big Data is set to change the art market

In late October, Sotheby’s announced it had acquired the Mei Moses Art Indices, a database of repeat auction sales that tracks value over time; shortly after, Artnet said it had brought Tutela Capital, an analytics firm headed by Fabian Bocart, into its portfolio, which also includes a sizeable database of auction prices. Each company has different aims, but one thing is clear: data will play a key role in how they—and the art market—move forward.

Modernising operations

In a 7 November call for investors, Sotheby’s chief executive Tad Smith described the acquisition (for a sum “immaterial” to the company’s financials) as just one of a number of initiatives to revamp the way the company leverages the information at its disposal. “We have developed an extensive customer relationship management programme to take new buyers and make more offers to them,” he said. “If you underbid for a particular painting in an auction and you don’t get it, I would like for you to have an opportunity to buy something very similar within 24 hours, something that is based on a relational database… that’s the kind of plumbing we’re developing now.”

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