The co-creator of Larry’s List, Magnus Resch, has returned with another take on the art market. This time its an image recognition app tied to a crowd sourced database of primary prices. Resch gave the International New York Times’s Scott Reyburn an exclusive to test the app. Reyburn turned to art advisor Lisa Schiff to take it on a test drive at Marianne Boesky and Matthew Marks’s galleries.
According to Schiff, the app worked very well in Chelsea. Reyburn thinks the demurely named app could be a big deal:
Magnus’s potential for opening the curtains of the art trade is illustrated, for example, by its data on Joe Bradley’s first show of new works at Gagosian, “Krasdale,” which opened on April 2. Mr. Bradley, whose ever-evolving practice has referenced both Minimalism and Abstract Expressionism, is one of the most admired artists working in America. In November his 2011 painting, “Tres Hombres,” was auctioned for $3.1 million at Christie’s.
What about his latest primary market sales? Gagosian, as a rule, does not divulge prices to the media, but the Magnus app tells us that Mr. Bradley’s eight-foot-wide geometric abstract “Canton Rose” sold at the show for $850,000. Ms. Schiff said she was quoted the same price by Gagosian. […]
The consequences, unintended or otherwise, of Magnus could give the art world plenty to think about. A lot depends on whether the app can gather a critical mass of crowd-sourced gallery prices.
If it can — and that remains a crucial “if” — then its business model has the potential to challenge established subscription-based Internet players like artnet.com and the information resource artsy.net. The former’s sale database is based solely on auctions, while the latter charges galleries to list their art and lacks a comprehensive database of prices.
James Tarmy goes a bit further in describing the exact impediments that constitute the ‘if.’
There are a few major hurdles to overcome before that happens, though, and all of them have to do with primary art prices.
The first issue is obvious to anyone who’s ever visited a gallery: Galleries don’t show prices.
“You just have to ask,” Resch countered. “And a lot of the time, a price list is just lying around the gallery.” (At Pace MacGill, in fact, a price list was sitting on the counter near the entryway.)
The second issue is pushback from galleries. There’s a variety of reasons they don’t show prices: Price tags cheapen a gallery’s museum-like aesthetic; sometimes only a few works in an exhibition are for sale; and there’s the uncomfortable fact that art can be priced differently for different people.
An App That Pushes Aside the Art World Curtain (The New York Times)
Magnus App Wants to be the Shazam of Art (Bloomberg)