Making prices available without forcing a buyer to ask is among the easiest things the art world can do to bring in new buyers. Publicly available pricing can also increase sales to current art buyers.
Large asymmetries of information between buyers and sellers have been shown to negatively affect the markets in which they exist. At best, asymmetries push buyers toward name brands, even if those brands are less of a perfect fit with the buyers’ taste.
Inquiries takes 4 to 10 demands between turning into a sale opposite to artworks with their prices publicly available. Artworks with publicly available pricing also received more positive sale which means that artist or dealer were able to spend time on nurturing relationships with collectors and curators, supporting their artists, and putting on great exhibitions. The potential impact of this opportunity cost with limited resources and time should not be underestimated. Even if you assume that the sales associate has all the relevant information on hand to answer the inquiring buyer, and that each inquiry takes an average of 10 minutes between context switching and generating a thoughtful reply, a gallery that does not post prices publicly will spend an hour of staff time for every 10 minutes spent by a gallery that defaults to posting prices publicly.
What’s more, because limiting information asymmetries spreads demand out to lesser-known brands, more publicly available pricing can help support a larger art ecosystem and bring yet more artists to the fore.That all sounds more thrilling to me than being one of hundreds to receive a price list in my inbox. Who wants more email, anyway?