Why Is Art So Expensive?

Ever wonder why as the modern world revolves, as time flies, and decades elapse – art remains in vogue and becomes more expensive. Well, grab a cup of coffee, a glass of wine, or a bottle of soda because this article aims to enlighten you about Why Is Art So Expensive?

Why Is Art So Expensive

What is Art?

There are many definitions of art but the simplified definition states – Art as a visual expression of human experiences, aesthetically, through different forms, styles, and textures. In simpler terms, art is life as we know it. 

What are the types/forms of Art?

There are different forms of art, which includes: 

  • Painting
  • Sculpting 
  • Literature 
  • Architecture 
  • Cinema
  • Music
  • Theater

The major purpose of this article is to understand why Art is so expensive, which leads to the next important question of the day.

What makes Art Valuable?

As an art enthusiast, it is certain that you would often wonder and ask yourself what exactly makes an art piece more valuable than another and who determines these things? What are the factors that influence the price? Keep reading to gain the knowledge and answers that you seek. As a collector or an observer, there are two ways to look at art: 

  • From an investor lens
  • As a collectible to be hung in your home or office space

Whichever the case might be, there are factors that influence the quality of every art piece in the market, and according to researchers these factors include:

11 Factors that influence the value of art:

Its authenticity

The original copy of the Mona Lisa is worth more than a copy or mimic because the piece is in its original and unique form. It is the only copy from the artist making it a limited edition.

Its provenance

Meaning its origin or record of ownership. Imagine if Beyonce, Ronaldinho, Kim Kardashian, or any other famous person, collector, or gallery decides to sell an art piece of their own, it will definitely influence the sales of that piece by 2 or more zeros. This is because people like to possess things owned by famous people.

its condition

The state of the art. Is it in a healthy condition? Has it been well kept and clear of any burns, holes, or scratches? The condition of an item will commonly affect its price because no one wants damaged goods.

The Popularity of the Artist

Who is the artist? Do they have a huge fanbase? The tendency that it will sell and be valuable in the market can be heavily influenced by the fame of the artist. People like to support famous folks that they are drawn, it shows a form of identity and belonging. Take, for instance, Balenciaga outfits, due to how popular the designer and most of his brand ambassadors are, people will most likely pay whatever it costs to own a piece from the collection. Remember when Ruby Woo (by Rihanna – Fenty) first came out? (back in 2015/16) every lady wanted to own an item or two from the collection.


Does the art piece have any similarities with a famous artist’s style? Take, for instance, Picasso. He is considered the king of classism, hence, pieces that resemble or fall under that category will cost more than regular, simple art.

The Background story

Art pieces with captivating owners, who lived interesting lives tend to have amazing backstories attached to their art. Take, for instance, the painting “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte”.

Type of Medium

This is a key factor in the art world. Art pieces like paintings, sculptures, and now NFTs have more value than sketches or prints. This is because of the amount of time, though, and labor put into it.


also determines its value. Shocking right? The narrative came about after the birth of expressionism. Paintings containing the color red have more significant value than other colors and also bright colored art. This narration influenced art to date.

The Subject of the art

in cinema, it is called the main character or the model. Certain subjects have more value than others, because of the general sentiment or desire attached to them. For instance, paintings of gorgeous women have a higher desirability rate than those of gorgeous men. Similarly, sunny landscape paintings have a higher value than dark paintings, and so does the painting of famous figures that are well-known. 

Its “wall power”

“Wall power” refers to Appeal, when placed on a wall does it draw its observers in? Does it attract and retain their attention? Shock them and make them willing to drop every cent for it! These are the factors that influence the value placed on a piece of art.

Its historical significance

How old a piece of art is and what importance has been placed on it matters. Take, for instance, the last supper, the scream, the birth of Venus, a Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, and the like. These paintings cost so much because they have lived for decades and decades to come.

Speaking of famous paintings, here is a list of the top 20 most famous paintings you should know about:

Top 20 most famous paintings

  1. The Mona Lisa
  2. Starry Night
  3. The Scream
  4. Guernica
  5. The Persistence of Memory
  6. Three Musicians
  7. A Sunday Afternoon on the island of La Grande Jatte.
  8. Girl with a pearl earring
  9. Whistler’s Mother
  10. Portrait de l’artiste sans barbe
  11. The Night Watch
  12. The Kiss
  13. Waterlilies
  14. The Flower Carrier
  15. American Gothic
  16. Cafe Terrace at Night
  17. The Son of Man
  18. No.5, 1948
  19. Bal du Monlin de la Galette &
  20. Dogs playing poker.

These paintings are owned by famous artists who are known for their incredible work. Hence the increase in value of the art, we are looking at nothing less than thousands – millions of dollars. The Mona Lisa is said to be worth $870 million, the scream painting by Edvard Munch sold for $119.9 million, and the son of man is estimated for $5,393,000 million. So you see, the popularity of the artist equals added value to each art piece.

In all these findings, I have come to realize that these paintings aren’t expensive because of their beauty, rather it is due to their scarcity, originality, demand, and supply factors. The majority of the owners are deceased, hence the need to own these pieces. This brings us to why you should own art.

Why you should buy art? 

Now that we are aware of the factors that play when dealing with art and why art is so expensive,  the next step is to know how to identify valuable art. After reading this article, it is certain that you will be able to identify expensive art and buy yours without a professional’s pair of eyes. 

Note: that art is never about beauty, don’t mistake that. It is usually about its uniqueness, authenticity, and as economists would say – the demand and supply.

According to art critics and bloggers, the major means of identifying valuable art is by its shade and color variant, i.e. how light or dark the colors appear. Value is attached to the appearance of texture and light in a piece of art. How it blends into the canvas, how it creates emotions and tells a story with its shade and tone.

Importantly, its medium and size also count. An art piece can only be expensive if it is the total package. This applies when we speak of physical art, but when it comes to modern art pieces like NFTs – authenticity, popularity, and demand play a major role.

In our modern world now, art is seen as an investment by art enthusiasts, the rich, and huge companies. Literally, everyone is beginning to see the need to invest in art, and as the demand increases, so will the artists continue to evolve and sell no matter the intent of the art (i.e. the initial thought of the artist towards the art.)

“Trends in the market may change and the price will shift, but the popularity of modern and contemporary art isn’t going anywhere”

– Joset Neet (London-based abstract artist)

Art professionals like; Gallery owners, curators, dealers, artists, and art promoters are also part of the influencer factor that determines the price of a piece, for they are the ones who look into the art, and determine whether it will have market value or not, then place value on them, and like wine, art appreciates with time.

With all that being said, at this point, you should be able to spot a valuable art piece and perhaps purchase some on your own without the help of a professional. One thing is certain, the art industry gets wealthier by the year and with its rapid growth, style and expression will continue to evolve and there will always be a huge market for it. So to answer your question, art is and will always be expensive because of its originality, and rarity, and it never loses value.

Look at the case of the popular Ghanaian pallbearers, whose creation went viral during the pandemic. About a few days ago, the leader of the group – Benjamin Aidoo, sold their viral coffin dance as an NFT for 372eth – making them $1.046million rich! It’s amazingly mind-blowing how art could make you wealthy overnight! Invest in them today and watch your credits double!