Journal of Economic Perspectives: Vol. 3 No. 3 (Summer 1989)


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How Auctions Work for Wine and Art

Article Citation

Ashenfelter, Orley. 1989. "How Auctions Work for Wine and Art." Journal of Economic Perspectives, 3(3): 23-36.

DOI: 10.1257/jep.3.3.23


At the first wine auction I ever attended, I saw the repeal of the law of one price. This empirical surprise led me to begin collecting data on wine auctions, to interview auctioneers, and even to buy a little wine. In the meantime I have also had the opportunity (with John Abowd) to observe and collect data on the auction sale of impressionist and contemporary paintings. This paper reports on some of the empirical regularities that I and others have observed in the actual operation of the auction markets for these items. In view of the rich and diverse array of theoretical literature on auctions, it seems high time economists began to spell out precisely what facts it is meant to explain.

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Ashenfelter, Orley (Princeton U)

JEL Classifications

022: Microeconomics--Theory of Auction Markets
026: Theory of Uncertainty and Information


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