We investigate how an artist's death impacts on the price of her artwork by estimating individual death effects of a sample of famous visual artists who died between 1985 and 2010. Using data from art auctions that took place in a narrow window around the artists' death, we apply various econometric methods, including regression discontinuity and differences-in-differences strategies. The heterogeneity in death effects across artists turns out to be substantial and can, in large part, be explained by age and reputation at death. This result is robust to various specifications and measures of reputation. We present as an exacting test the case of Keith Haring, whose terminal illness was communicated by him well in advance.
art auction prices death effect reputation differences in differences regression discontinuity