When we went to see the Klimts, I had my students write down on a piece of paper how much they estimate the other four would go for in this sale.
I did this exercise in order to test the hypothesis in Jim Surowiecki’s book, The Wisdom Of Crowds, in which it is claimed that the average guesses of a group will always be more precise than the best guest of any expert in the room.
The four Klimts (including Adele Bloch-Bauer II, 1912) sold for $192.2 million. That number includes auction house commissions, so the actual total price was $169.1 million.
That number falls exactly at the midpoint of the average figure that my students guessed ($168 million) and the median figure they guessed ($170 million).