The folks behind SellYouLater.com got in touch the other day. You might have seen their site mentioned on Artspace.com and the valuable Q&A that’s posted there. If not, and you’re interested in this service that tries to apply financial mapping to emerging artists, you should be sure to read it.
The founders are wary of identifying themselves because they claim they’ve faced hostility for treating art as a commodity. And that may be true. Passions do run high around the art market. And the appearance of SellYouLater.com will strike some as a sure sign of a market top or the coming of the next market apocalypse.
Nonetheless, one member of the two-person team gave us a few details:
In 2012, my partner was approached to invest a small emerging art fund’s capital into a range of artists. Rather than simply speculate as to which would be most lucrative, we created an exploratory flow chart which later helped us define a six module algorithm of Presence, Auction results, market Saturation, market Support, Representation and Social mapping (PASSRS). Each of these modules is considered an exogenous component; each is qualitatively weighted in service of defining a vector or ‘artist trajectory’. We compare past trajectories to help forecast early emerging artists’ success. In other words, what we do is very similar to what any high frequency trading algorithm does, but with a special focus on the qualitative aspects of art. Our algorithm is intent on assessing the immediate value of a work, not its survival value. We do not judge any work’s aesthetic or emotional value.
The representative of SellYouLater.com also commented on their predictive framework:
As for the trading recommendations, the two buy now categories are the artists we see on the trajectory to becoming highly sought after– and those are the artists who we make an actionable acquisition recommendation for. The optimized return is achieved by selling the artists in the sell now category, as their demand peaks according to our forecast.
They also try to flag when the game is up and you should take your losses by providing “liquidate” recommendations. Finally, lest you think this is all an academic exercise, they told Artspace that their algo has proven real-world results:
We developed the algorithm for an emerging art fund in 2012. The algorithm facilitated a 4200 percent return on investment over a 16 month period. […] Our intent is to quantify deep industry knowledge and grant access to both collectors and institutions interested in the emerging segment. Until a few years ago, auction results were not publicly distributed; we envision a similar demand and adoption curve for art market forecast models.
Behind the Anarchist Art-Market Predictors SellYouLater.com (Artspace.com)