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Pricing is part science, part art, says Saffronart’s Minal Vazirani

Having not grown up in India, Vazirani struggled to acquire new artwork when she first moved to the country.

, ET Bureau|
Aug 08, 2019, 12.55 PM IST
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With over 200 auctions under her belt, the Saffronart co-founder seems to have figured out the secret to pricing art.
What decides the price point for iconic artworks? Minal Vazirani, cofounder of India’s home-grown auction house Saffronart, sheds light on the intricate process.

For years, artworks have commanded astronomical prices at auctions but few know what really pushes the price or value of a certain artwork. Is it the artist’s fame, the technique, the artwork in question or another reason entirely? For Saffronart’s Minal Vazirani, the debate isn’t abstract but personal.

Having not grown up in India, Vazirani struggled to acquire new artwork when she first moved to the country due to the hyper localisation of the market and irregular pricing. “It was so compartmentalised, so localised, I couldn’t figure it out. I would go to two different galleries, across the street from each other, and there were would be a price difference of 30 per cent,” she recounted during the inaugural ET Panache Dialogues. That disparity pushed Vazirani to spearhead a new forum for art dealings.
​(From left) GV Sanjay Reddy, Gayatri Ruia, Sabyasachi Mukherjee, Bose Krishnamachari, Bhushan Gagrani and Minal Vazirani at the inaugural ETPanache Dialogues.
(From left) GV Sanjay Reddy, Gayatri Ruia, Sabyasachi Mukherjee, Bose Krishnamachari, Bhushan Gagrani and Minal Vazirani at the inaugural ETPanache Dialogues.

Setting A Price
Today, with over 200 auctions under her belt, the Saffronart co-founder seems to have figured out the secret to pricing art.

“The pricing for art is actually part science and part art – no pun intended (laughs). It takes a lot of factors into account; the artist, the medium, the dimensions and size of the work, the period, the inherent aesthetic quality of the work,” she said, listing some of the factors that help her set an auction price.

“There are also several other factors. For example, there may have been a recent event in the artist’s life, an important exhibition or the artist’s work has been added to a collection. All of these aspects are combined and there is a sort of extrapolation of an appropriate price point.”

But she doesn’t arrive at this price in isolation. “What we also look for are price comparables. We evaluate other works by the same artist and take a look at what they sold for, particularly in public auctions, because that is always a reliable record of the pricing. We combine all that to determine auction market estimates.”

ET Panache Dialogues: Bose Krishnamachari, GV Sanjay Reddy, Gayatri Ruia Talk Art

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For The Love Of Art

27 Jul, 2019
‘Has art become more inaccessible than ever? Has the exorbitant cost of acquiring art limited its appeal to only the uber wealthy?’In the inaugural edition of ET Panache Dialogues, a series of panel discussions on relevant subjects, six esteemed guests spoke about the state of affairs of the art market. Snapshots from the session:When: Friday, July 26, 2019Location courtesy: Wine & Malt Lounge at The Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai
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