Study: Narcissistic Artists’ Work Sells for More Money

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — While beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, and many things are worth what people are willing to pay for them, a new study proves that works from artists who were narcissists sell for more money.

According to a study published in the European Journal of Finance, the size of an artist’s signature on a painting could be tracked as a personality trait in relation to a forty point scale known as the Narcissistic Personality Inventory.

Simply put, the bigger a person writes his or her signature, study author Yi Zhou found, the more likely they were to be narcissistic. (We’re looking at you, John Hancock.)

Yi crunched the numbers on 416,665 unique paintings sold over decades — some from masters like Pablo Picasso, Vincent Van Gogh, and others — and determined that, “one standard deviation increase in narcissism increases [a work’s] market price by 16%.”

Furthermore, narcissistic artists created bigger works and held more solo shows than their less self-loving counterparts, both of which also drove up sale prices. While previous studies claimed narcissism had a limited effect, Yi reports, “the effects of admiration and recognition are long lasting” — indeed, they often outlive the artists themselves.

In a related note, “brand name” auction houses, such as Sotheby’s, also lent more credibility to sales, increasing the sellers’ bottom lines.  

The scientist’s research isn’t only useful on the auction block, however. Yi claims that CEOs and other leaders often demonstrate such tendencies, and his findings can offer “an alternative view of the benefits” of the normally frowned-upon, self-centered trait.

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