art value - Issue 2


art value 2
2. Jahrgang 2008


Dear Readers,

In the next ten years fortunes equaling more than two billion Euros will be inherited in Germany. Although artworks comprise only a small part of these sums, art will play an important role in two ways: First, the range of possible value bases for art is particularly extensive, much more than with other inheritances, and, second, art fortunes allow a comparatively large amount of maneuverability with regard to German inheritance tax laws. This will become even more interesting since the inheritance laws are being amended this year.

In their contributions the authors Carolin Jost, Felix Ganteführer, Stefan Fritz and Michael Stingl discuss general tax conditions, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of various foundation models as vehicles under corporate laws for the transfer of art. Based on the several foundation models presented here, it is possible to demonstrate a remarkable value shift: in return for receiving tax benefits, previously private art collections are required to be made accessible to the public to a specified degree. The works from such collections can be viewed by a wider public and the visibility of the collection is increased. That the staging of visibility now has a decisive influence on the value of the art is illustrated in the texts by Thomas Wulffen and Matthias Lengner. Wulffen uses the most recent Venice Biennale to prove this point, while Lengner provides a brief history of those kinds of forms of art presentation that reflect the exhibition situation as a defining factor of the art works themselves.

Michael North takes up the theme of inheritance from a cultural- and economic-historical point of view. Since the 17th century estate auctions have played a major part in the circulation of art works. Additionally, the existence of specific highlights in some museum collections or even of entire collections themselves, such as the Städel collection in Frankfurt, are thanks to controlled successions and an active art market.

We also once again pose key questions. How is it possible to establish something such as a generally accepted value of several art works in the cosmos of pure subjectivity? To do this Kosme de Barañano has developed elements of a pricing theory for art. Bruno Frey and Stefan Meier answer the question of whether art makes one happy and Stefan Kobel has provided readers with a concise summary of events in the art market in 2007.

On the following pages we have brought together original contributions, all by experienced authors, each with his own position regarding the value of art. And, just as before, this issue of art value contains a selection of art images, curated by René Zechlin, who presents works by the artists Carsten Fock and Stephen Brandes.

We wish you an enjoyable read!

Tilman Welther


Art is closely connected to both human contentment and unhappiness. Using advanced surveying methods, which are able to measure a person’s subjective well being, the preferences of 22,000 individuals were analyzed. In answering the question of whether art makes people happy, the results of two survey questions were linked together: the first question related to how often the surveyed visited cultural events and the second to how happy the individuals believed themselves to be.

On the one hand, nearly half of those surveyed said they never attended art related events. On the other, they were asked to state how happy they believed themselves to be. In their opinion people are happy when they smil­e often, are open and optimistic and have few work related problems. Frey and Meier´s study established that peopl­e who attend cultural events are more content with their lives than those who consume art less frequently or never.

The exact reason for this is, however, not entirel­y clear: Does a higher frequency of visits to cultural events increase contentment or is it rather simply that happier people tend to attend such activities more frequently? This is something to be examined in more detail at a late­r date. Much indicates the existence of two simultaneously valid factors: One is that happier people tend to be more open, a characteristic expressed in their frequent attendance at artrelated events. It is, however, equally true that the untrained individual can also find a level of happiness and contentment through exposure to art.