Book Review: The Value of Art by Michael Findlay

The valuation of art is a fickle thing; so many non-concrete factors come into play in the art world, a volatile one where art careers and collections can be easily changed based on emotions rather than traditional explanations. The Value of Art offers readers assistance in deciphering this complicated world. Combined with humor and wit, Michael Findlay provides explanations to guide art lovers through the twists and turns of the art world, yet reminds us that first foremost, one must find artworks to LOVE.


That Michael Findlay is an expert on art is not debatable. Having directed galleries in the 1960’s to hold a pivotal position at Christie’s for nearly 20 years, his depth of knowledge and experience is second to none. Who better to teach collectors and art enthusiasts about the complexity of art valuation? Findlay has witnessed an absolute overturn of the industry, from an actual cultural change in art collectors to the impressive globalization of the art market. He is an ideal presenter for this topic, and offers his view with a sense of realism, to readers of all ages.


Whether one is buying, selling, or even just enjoying art, Findlay offers insight to break down this complication world. He makes it clear that there are multiple components of art valuation and simplifies them to three: financial, aesthetic, and social features, each of which has some influence on the other and cannot exist independently.

By opening this mysterious world of art, new players can join (increasing the market), and tastes in artwork can be developed (expanding the art market). Like a mystery book or TV drama, Findlay lures the reader in with stories of winners and losers, and the “dirty” details which can—and do—happen in this complex industry. Findlay has seen many changes in the art industry since he entered in the 1960’s and


Findlay balances the reality of art collecting as a “market” with pure, unadulterated joy from experiencing a beautiful work of art. Both exist in today’s world and can either function together or separately, as a collector establishes his or her approach.  Findlay has balanced his years of involvement in the art industry with the observation of an art lover and provided the reader with the information to choose sides or not. This book is worth reading, even though its age (circa 2012) may be revealed in some terms and extensive modifications in the market itself.