Launched last week on 8th of February, the team behind the new web sensation of art world, SellYouLater.com is already getting threats "from individuals who believe our quantitative forecasting is an unfair market force," as they admit in a recent interview. So how do they do it? Put simply, by looking at numbers and relying information from the main players in the art world.The algorithm used was originally developed for an art fund in 2012. Using the data supplied by their solid art network; these machine-learning algorithms identify "relevant metrics from over three million historic data points including auction results, representation, collectors, and museums", and the resulting lists on the website give advice in simple words: Liquidate, Sell Now, Buy Now, etc. It this the "vague promise of a new metric-based art economy" ?
Certainly a very interesting website that we will be following to keep up with the latest. However, although SellYouLater is easy to use and beneficial especially for new collectors, going over the results of last week's London contemporary sales one can just as easily be puzzled.
Look at the hot young artist Lucien Smith. Under the Phillips Evening and Day Sales, the artist is a sure SELL NOW, while in the Sotheby's sales of the same week Lucien Smith is tagged as "strong market demand #BUYNOW" on more than one occasion. Certainly part of this is that Smith is a young artist whose prices and career have not run the test of time yet. But we suspect it is also because as Scott Reyburn writes in his New York Times article today, "Mr. Smith, 24, is the latest wunderkind to be flipped and re-flipped by market insiders before fetching an even higher price at auction." So in a market where this new type of collectors -- led by the "super-flippers" who buy high privately and then sell even higher at auction -- it is becoming more difficult to decide on a fair market price, and perhaps this is where Sell You Later is attempting to aide us, as a step forward for a more transparent, logic-driven art world.