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Prof. dr. O.J.M. (Olav) Velthuis

Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences
Programme group: Cultural Sociology
Photographer: Bram Belloni

Visiting address
  • Nieuwe Achtergracht 166
  • Room number: C6.13
Postal address
  • Postbus 15508
    1001 NA Amsterdam
  • Profile

    Olav Velthuis is Professor at the Department of Sociology of the University of Amsterdam, specializing in economic sociology, sociology of the arts and cultural sociology. He currently serves as Head of the department. His research interests include the globalization of art markets, the interrelations between market and gift exchange, private art museums, the valuation and pricing of contemporary art, and the moral and socio-technological dimensions of markets for adult content. In a cross-comparative fashion, he has studied the emergence and development of art markets in the BRIC-countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China). The project was financed by a VIDI-grant from the Dutch Science Foundation (NWO). Before moving to the Universiity of Amsterdam, Velthuis worked for several years as a Staff Reporter Globalization for the Dutch daily de Volkskrant. Also, he worked as an Assistant Professor at the University of Konstanz and as a Post-Doc researcher at Columbia University.

    Velthuis is the author of Talking Prices. Symbolic Meanings of Prices on the Market for Contemporary Art (Princeton University Press, 2005), which received the Viviana Zelizer Distinguished Book Award of the American Sociological Association for the best book in economic sociology (2006). The American magazine Newsweek referred to it as "the best study of what art spending means". He is also the author of Imaginary Economics (NAi Publishers, 2005), which was translated into Dutch and Italian. Together with Maria Lind of Tensta Konsthall (Stockholm), he edited the book Contemporary Art and Its Commercial Markets A Report on Current Conditions and Future Scenarios (Sternberg Press, 2012) and with Stefano Baia Curioni the book Cosmopolitan Canvases. The Globalization of Markets for Contemporary Art (Oxford University Press, 2015).

    Apart from art markets, Velthuis has among others studied the market for literary fiction, cultural consumption and lifestyle, financial markets, and journalism. His academic work has appeared in leading journals in social science including Theory & Society, Socio-Economic Review, Economy & Society, Journal of Consumer Culture, Journalism, and the Journal of Cultural Economics. His journalistic writings have appeared in among others The New York Times, Artforum, the Art Newspaper and the Financial Times. His work has been cited in international media including Newsweek, Die Zeit, Corriere della Sera, The Independent, Il Sole 24 Ore, the FreakonomicsBlog of the New York Times, and the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

    Velthuis has given keynote lectures and workshops at a variety of national and international cultural institutions including Tate Modern (London), Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam), Toneelgroep Amsterdam, the International Committee for Museums and Collections of Modern Art (CIMAM), Tensta Konsthall (Stockholm), Art Basel, Rijksacademie (Amsterdam), Witte de With (Rotterdam), Christie's (London) and De Appel (Amsterdam).

    He is president of The International Art Market Studies Association ( and used to be board member of the Netherlands Foundation for Visual Arts, Design and Architecture (Fonds BKVB), which was the main government-sponsored foundation for visual artists in the Netherlands.

  • CV
  • Publications (academic & popular)
  • Media

    Media coverage (international)

    Anna Louie Sussman, ‘The Art Market Has Changed Dramatically—but Is It a Mature Industry?’, Artsy, 08.07.2017. [link]

    Julia Halperlin, ‘Art-Fair Economics: Why Small Galleries Do Art Fairs Even When They Don’t Make Money’, Artnet News, 13.6.2017. [link]

    Georgina Adam, ‘Merchants of Venice: is the Biennale too commercial?’, Financial Times, 5.5.2017. [link]

    Rachel Corbett, ‘Mass Market: Darren Bader and the Art of Selling Contemporary Readymades’, Art & Auction magazine, also published on: Blouin Artinfo, 27.10.2016. [link]

    Gustavo H.B. Franco, ‘O fim do dinheiro’, Estadao, 26.6.2016. [link]

    Katiya Kazinka, ‘Brexit Looms Over Art Market With London Auctions Set to Decline’, Bloomberg News, 21.6.2016. [link]

    Henri Neuendorf, ‘How Would the Brexit Affect London's Summer Auctions?’, Artnet News, 21.6.2016. [link]

    Melanie Gerlis, ‘From Dürer to Hirst, which artists do artists collect?’, Financial Times, 10.6.2016. [link]

    Sarah Lookofsky, ‘Art and Capital; Interview with Olav Velthuis’, DIS Magazine, March 2016. [link]

    Simon Watson, ‘Beyond Zika, Dilma and All That’, Huffington Post, 14.3.2016. [link]

    Georgina Adam, ‘In the beginning: women kickstart South Asia scene’, The Art Newspaper, 1.3.2016. [link]

    Silvia Simoncelli, ‘I Cenesi Scendono dalla Giostra’, Il Sole 24 Ore, 13.2.2016, p. 21.

    Melanie Gerlis, ‘Why is the art market like a carousel? Academic Olav Velthuis says growing a scene is “hard and tedious; but once it gets going it gets easier’, The Art Newspaper, 1.2.2016. [link]

    Leo Klimm, ‘Zwei Warhol’s, bitte!’, Capital, 11/2015, pp. 152-161

    Charlotte Burns, ‘How 'third-party partners' helped Christie's record-breaking New York auction’, The Art Newspaper, 7.7.2015. [link to online version]

    Gareth Harris, ‘The Art Market’ (on Cosmopolitan Canvases) , Financial Times, 5.6.2015. [link to online version]

    Julia Halperlin and Pac Pobric, ‘See in Venice, buy in New York?’, The Art Newspaper, 1.4.2015. [link to online version]

    Julia Halperlin, ‘Dealers abandon bricks and mortar galleries for more flexible models’, The Art Newspaper, 15.5.2015. [link to online version]

    Garreth Harris and Anny Shaw, ‘Who's bankrolling the Venice Biennale?’, The Art Newspaper, 7.5.2015. [link to online version]

    Satyajit Das, ‘The Art of Destructive Capital’, Naked Capitalism, 9 January 2015,

    Kimberley Bradley, ‘Thoughts on Stefan Simchowitz from Berlin’, Hyperallergic, 6.1.2015. [link]

    ‘Culture, art 'key to realizing Qatar's national vision', MENA English (Middle East and North Africa Financial Network), November 10, 2014 (also published in The Peninsula Online) [link to online version]

    ‘How globalised is today’s ‘global art market’, Art Market Agency, 18.7.2014. [link]

    Partha Mitter, ‘Collapsing Certainties (on Contemporary Art and Its Commercial Markets)’, Cairo Review of Global Affairs, 6.7.2014. [link]

    Emily Levy, ‘What a $25M Popeye Sculpture Says About the Super-Rich’, Vocativ, 14.5.2014. [link]

    ‘So-Called Myth of Global Art Market. Really?’, Blouin Art Info Blogs, 27.4.2014. [link]

    Melanie Gerlis, ‘Is the Global Art Market a Myth’, The Art Newspaper, 25.4.2014. [link]

    ‘The Myth of a Global Art Market’, The Art Market Digest, 24.4.2014. [link]

    ‘Constructing an Art Market. Interview with Olav Velthuis’, Art Market Agency, 27.2.2014. [link]

    Matthias Thibaut ‘Zwischen Faszination und Ernüchterung’, Handelsblatt, Art Market Section 30 December 2013.

    Peter Popham, ‘So what is it about Jeff Koons that has so captured art world's imagination as Balloon Dog sells for record $58m?’, The Independent, 15.11.2013. [link to online version]

    ‘The Essential Reading List for New Collectors, à la Artsy Staff’, Artsy, 23.7.2013. [link]

    ‘12 Books on the Ins and Outs of Collecting Contemporary Art’, The Huffington Post, 12.4.2013. [link]

    Cristina Ruiz, ‘Venice makes the art world go round’, The Art Newspaper. Art Basel Daily Edition, 13.3.2013. [link to online version]

    Andrew M. Goldstein, ‘An Art Advisor's Guide to Art Basel Miami Beach, With Todd Levin’, 6.12.2012. [link]

    Charlotte Burns, ‘Can their love last forever? The love affair between the art world and luxury brands has dominated the decade, but the romance may be cooling’, The Art Newspaper, 01.12.2012.

    Paolo Manazza, ‘Lo zar del calcio. E dell'arte;  Sguardi Il collezionista Roman Abramovich Riservato, misterioso, tra gli uomini più ricchi del mondo, il miliardario russo patron del Chelsea ha in casa Bacon, Freud e Severini. Merito della compagna Dasha’,  Corriere della Sera, 2.9.2012.

    Dan Karlholm, ‘What is contemporary art; book review of Contemporary art and its commercial markets’, Konsthistorisk Tidskrift, 81 (3), September 2012, pp. 183-196.

    ‘Fair or foul: more art fairs and bigger brand galleries, but is the model sustainable?’, The Art Newspaper, 1.6.2012.

    Pablo Pardo, ‘Estamos en la antesala de una burbuja artística?’, El Mundo, 11.5.2012.

    Tobias Timm, ‘Sicherer als Gold;  Warum ging es dem Kunstmarkt in dem Krisenjahr so blendend? Fragen an den Kunstmarktsoziologen Olav Velthuis’, Die Zeit, 29.12.2011. [link]

    Blake Gopnik, ‘Why Does Art Cost So Effing Much?;  A pile of stools for $575,000. A cabinet full of surgical instruments for a cool $2.5 million. The global economy's in a tailspin, but among the world's elite collectors, works are selling for record prices’, Newsweek, 12.12.2011. [link to online version]

    Catriona McLaughlin, ‘Was darf das kosten?’,  Capital, 1.10.2011. [link]

    Eliana Di Caro, ‘Olanda al voto, scontro finale tra Rutte e Cohen’, Il Sole 24 Ore, 9.6.2010. [link to online version]

    Matthew Bown, ‘Dust to Dust’, Artnet, 25.5.2010. [link]

    Kevin McGarry, ‘Report: Olav Velthuis at Juicing the Equilibrium (at Independent)’, Art 21 Magazine¸12.3.2010. [link]

    Kelly Devine Thomas, ‘Confidence Killers’, Blouin Art Info, 2.4.2009. [link]

    ‘Die Multimillionäre aus Russland bleiben weg;  Kursstürze am Kunstmarkt: bei den Herbstauktionen in New York läuft das Geschäft nur schleppend’, Stuttgarter Zeitung, 10.11.2008.

    Jane Morris, ‘Talking Prices; book review’, Museums Journal, 108 (1), January 2008, pp. 54-55.

    Annika Mengisen, ‘What Does $33.6 Million Mean in the Art World?’, Freakonomics Blog New York Times, 23.5.2008. [link]

    Paul Mattick, ‘What is art worth’, Art in America, December 2006, pp. 55-57.

    ‘How prices are set’ (review of Talking Prices), The Art Newspaper, 1.2.2006.

    Jürgen Kaube, ‘Unsere Werte verfallen niemals’, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 27.10.2004.


           Media coverage (Dutch)

    Anna van Leeuwen, ‘Veilen leuk maken voor een nieuw publiek’, de Volkskrant, 11.12.2015 [link]

    Stijn Huits, ‘N25 31.019' E050 51.948'’, Dagblad de Limburger / Limburgs Dagblad, 15 november 2014.

    Nell Westerlaken, ‘Verkocht: Warhol voor 66 miljoen’, de Volkskrant, 14 november 2014. [link]

    Lynn Berger, ‘De kunstverzamelaar die niets wil bezitten’, De Correspondent, 18.9.2014. [link]

    Jeroen Pen, ‘Ruim honderd kunstgaleries gestopt door crisis’, de Volkskrant, 3 juni 2014.

    ‘Shoppen zonder scrupules;  Ethisch consumeren moet leuk blijven’,  De Telegraaf, 28 mei 2014

    Linda Gottmer, ‘Als loterijen  minder  afdragen aan goede doelen, gaan die  er niet op achteruit’,  NRC.NEXT, 18 april 2014.

    ‘Kunstmarkt floreert, dankzij Bernanke’, Het Financieele Dagblad, 4 januari 2014.Rutger Pontzen, ‘Wat biedt de gek?’, de Volkskrant, 22 november 2013.

    ‘Kleine beurs is soms beter’,  NRC Handelsblad, 23 oktober 2013.

    Lorraine Marlissa, ‘Service maakt vaak het verschil; Strijden om de titel Beste Winkelketen van Nederland’, De Telegraaf, 29.8.2013. [link to online version]

    Steffi Weber, ‘Op kunstbeurs begint bouwen aan oeuvre, NRC NEXT, 13.3.2013.

    Lorraine Marlisa, ‘Kathedralen der consumptie. De (on)misbaarheid van stenen winkels', De Telegraaf, 27.12.2012. [link to online version]

    Pieter van Os, ‘Miljoenen voor een naam’, NRC Handelsblad, 27.9.2012.

    Lotte de Voegt, ‘De toekomst van een versnipperde kunstmarkt’ (boekbespreking van Maria Lind & Olav Velthuis Contemporary Art and Its Commercial Markets: A Report on Current Conditions and Future Scenarios), Rekto Verso. Tijdschrift voor Cultuur en Kritiek, nr. 53, sept-okt 2012. [link to online version]

    Suki de Boer, ‘Maria Lind & Olav Velthuis Contemporary Art and Its Commercial Markets: A Report on Current Conditions and Future Scenarios’ (boekbespreking), Metropolis M, 2012 (no. 4). [link to online version]

    ‘Kunstmarkt is sterker dan ooit’, De Telegraaf, 16.6.2012.

    Henny de Lange, ‘Recordbedrag voor iconisch werk van Edvard Munch’, Trouw, 4.5.2012.

    Dieuwertje Mertens, 'Galerie cruciale instelling binnen de kunstwereld', Het Parool, 7.12.2011.

    Laura de Jong, ‘Hoe kom ik de crisis door? Vijf gouden tips van de experts’, de Volkskrant, 17.11.2011. [link]

    ‘Vermogensverschillen groeien’, NRC Handelsblad, 25.6.2011.

    ‘Mondialisering kunst en economie’, ScienceGuide, 29.11.2010. [link]

    Maartje Somers, ‘Hoe Atlas op de Tea Party terechtkwam;  Hans Achterhuis schreef een  compacte ideeëngeschiedenis van het neoliberalisme’, NRC Handelsblad, 30.4.2010.

    Evelien van Veen, ‘Mijn eerste kunstcollectie’, de Volkskrant, 3.4. 2010.

    Jan Tromp, ‘Leve de onzekerheid;  interview  Liesbeth Noordegraaf-Eelens over vertrouwen, wantrouwen en geloof in de economie’, de Volkskrant, 13.2.2010.

    Hans Achterhuis, ‘Geduldige denkstappen die diep gaan’, NRC Handelsblad, 31.12.2009.

    Gitte Brugman, ‘Kunstbeurs als decor’, Leeuwarder Courant, 24.12.2009.

    Ewald Engelen, ‘De kredietcrisis. Whodunit?;  Hoogmoed of hebzucht?’, De Groene Amsterdammer, 16.12.2009.

    Eduard Sloot, ‘Vraagtekens bij rol media in ondergang DSB’, Dagblad van het Noorden / De Gooi- en Eemlander / Nederlands Dagblad, 7.11.2009.

    Dick Pels, ‘De macht van de zichzelf vervullende voorspelling’, Managementboek Boekblog, 5.11.2009. [link]

    Jonathan van het Reve, ‘Het is absurd om journalisten de mond te snoeren als ze slecht nieuws over een bank hebben;  Nieuws!’, Vrij Nederland, 24.10.2009.

    Henk Blanken, ‘De DSB Canard: moeten journalisten zwijgen?’, De Nieuwe Reporter, 18.10.2009. [link]

    Ewald Engelen, ‘Groepsdenken’, De Groene Amsterdammer, 6.9.2009.

    Co Welgraven, ‘Dit is ook het falen van de wetenschap;  vandaar dit boek’, Dagblad Trouw, 5.9.2009.

    Birte Schohaus, ‘Het gaat weer om kwaliteit;  Kunst in tijden van crisis’, De Groene Amsterdammer, 8.4. 2009. [link]

    Ewald Engelen, ‘Gevallen priesters’, De Groene Amsterdammer, 20.2.2009.

    ‘Na Damien Hirst de zondvloed’, Het Financieele Dagblad, 27.12.2008.

    Dieuwertje Mertens, ‘Sappelen voor kunst; de kunstmarkt en de crisis, De Groene Amsterdammer, 12.12.2008.

    Mathijs Bouwman, ‘Marktcrisis’, De Groene Amsterdammer, 1.8.2008.

    Riki Simons, ‘Mecenas in een bijrol;  Nederlandse beleidsmakers hebben de mond vol over de waarde van private initatieven in de kunsten. Maar ze blijven particuliere financiering wantrouwen’, Elsevier, 26.7.2008.

    Gary Schwartz, ‘Prijsscenario's als wapen tegen zenuwachtigheid’, Het Financieele Dagblad, 5.11.2005.

    Louise de Haan, ‘Een galeriehouder zorgt goed voor zijn kinderen;  Prijs moderne kunst niet bepaald door vraag en aanbod’, Trouw , 5.11.2005.

    Edo Dijksterhuis, ‘Taboe op tweedehands kunst’, Het Financieele Dagblad, 1.10.2005.

    Louise de Haan, ‘Kunst die gaat over het geld ; Landy vernietigde al zijn spullen’ (recensie van Imaginaire Economie), Trouw, 11.6.2005.

    ‘De economie van de galerie’, Het Financieele Dagblad, 6.9.2003.

    Sandra Heerma van Voss, ‘Galeriehouders zijn bang voor de markt’, NRC Handelsblad 13.06.2002.

    Bart Jungmann, ‘Prijzen gaan verder dan vraag en aanbod’, de Volkskrant 12.06.2002.

    Marc Floor, ‘Over geld wordt in de kunst niet gesproken’, Rotterdams Dagblad 06.06.2002.

    Sandra Jongenelen, ‘Prijs kunstwerk is een bewering’, Het Financieele Dagblad, 24.11.2001

    Janssen, L., ‘Een collectie vorm je voor de eeuwigheid. Interview met Julia Noordegraaf en Olav Velthuis’, Roest, no. 1, juni 1999, pp. 7-9.

    Edith Boeker, ‘Keuzevrijheid is onzin. Olav Velthuis en de 24-uurseconomie’, Centraal Weekblad, 46 (no. 22), 29.5.1998, pp. 16.


  • Ancillary activities
    • No ancillary activities