Does Artist's Death Increase Value? Just like clothing, art goes in and out of style. Value is often tied to popularity, which can change at any given time. But whether a particular artist's work increases in value is only indirectly connected with the time of their death. It's really all about supply and demand. Chatelaine's Antiques Collectibles Appraisals

 

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Art Price Guides 2003

 

 
DOES ARTIST'S DEATH INCREASE VALUE?
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Dear Chatelaine's Antiques,

Maybe you could debunk or confirm the myth that a painting or a sculpture automatically increases in value after the artist's death. I bought this piece several years ago and the artist recently died. I'm curious to know how much the value of the piece changed, and in general, if value increases after an artist's death?
Joe C.



Dear Joe,

Just like clothing, art goes in and out of style. Value is often tied to popularity, which can change at any given time. But whether a particular artist's work increases in value is only indirectly connected with the time of their death. It's really all about supply and demand.

For instance, Jackson Pollock was very popular during his lifetime. When he died, all of a sudden there was a limited supply of Pollock paintings. So even though his work was already selling well, the price went up.


Now take the case of Willem De Kooning, who died just a few years ago. Like Pollock he was well recognized while he was alive. However, collectors were and still are more interested in his early works than any of his later pieces. That means that even while he was alive, de Kooning's most popular paintings were already in limited supply. By the time he died, they were already immensely valuable, so his death really didn't have any effect.

Your painting is a beautiful work by Thomas Kapsalis. He was a well-known teacher at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He had some regular shows at galleries in the Chicago area but none of his paintings ever sold at a public auction. Sorry, Joe, but that means there's not a broad interest in his work outside of galleries, and it's pretty unlikely the value will increase.



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