Advanced English, Conversational English, English Exams, Listening, Speaking

Art Auctions (Advanced English)

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Ever swung by an Art Auction in your free-time? But how did the art auctions business become a multi-billion-dollar industry? The film below explores this question with specific attention to the last 20 years. It explains the connection between the auction price and market value of a piece art. With interviews from auction-house specialists, financial analysts, and art-world influencers like Adam Lindemann, Xin Li, Sarah Thornton, Josh Baer, and Don Thompson which add personal insight and shape the narrative.

The Art Market, Explained: What You Need to Know About Auctions


  • Dealers (art): is a person or company that buys and sells works of art
  • A Lot: An individual object or group of objects offered for sale at auction as a single unit
  • Mark-up (business): a term in retail business describing the increase in the price of goods to cover expenses and create a profit margin
  • Homogenizing effect: used to describe how something that was once diverse with variety becomes very similar and uninspiring
  • Patron: a person who supports with money, gifts, efforts, or endorsement an artist.


This dialogue in this video is quite fast and is going to give you a work-out. Here we’re also focusing on BIG numbers. Feel free to listen to it as many times as you need until you can find the answers. All else fails, turn on YouTube’s automatic captions. Good Luck!

  1. How many sunflower seeds did Ai Weiwei use for an exhibition at the Tate’s turbine hall? (00:18)
  2. What were Fine Art Auctions originally for and how is that different from today? (01:24)
  3. What year was considered Jean-Michel Basquiat‘s most inspired? (01:54)
  4. How much did the painting sell for including the buyers premium? (02:50)
  5. How does a price guarantee benefit the art market? (03:20)
  6. When investors who follow trends get involved in the art market, what is the result? (03:38)


Take a minute or two to just have a look at this photo. You can click the Artist’s Credit link below it to download this image to have a closer look. Then, record your answers using your phone’s voice recording app.

Matheus Ferrero

  1. In your opinion, are tattoo’s part of a social stigma? Why? (work / friendships / relationships)
  2. Have you ever considered getting one? (size / meaning)
  3. For what purpose might it have originally been made?
  4. How does this make you feel?


Pick 2 of the questions in the Speaking Section and leave your response in the Comments Box below. We look forward to seeing what you write!


How to Leave a Response in the Comments Box

Listening Answers

  1. 100,000,000 porcelain sunflower seeds
  2. Auctions were once a place were dealers could buy art cheaply to then sell on at a mark-up. Now they’re one of the art world’s most anticipated events.
  3. 1982
  4. $57.3 million
  5. Price guarantees bring better works of art to auction
  6. So many art collections become homogenised as the investors only buy what an auction reveals has value unlike art patrons with a genuine interest and love for the art itself



  • Here’s another hobbies lesson to try:

    Give it a go and remember to always post your writing tasks down here in these comments boxes so we can have a look at it for you, totally free!

    Enjoy! 😊

    • Wonderful! I’m looking forward to seeing your writing Vanelle, and don’t worry, it’ll be awesome 😘

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