Warren dislikes auctions. More specifically, he disliked when a person would buy a piece at the Stillwater studio and put it on Ebay. He put a control in place last year where a person could only buy two pieces, as they should be spread amongst everyone. Nonetheless, I think it is important for us to understand what is the 'value' of a piece so people know how much is too much. Without an understanding of what people are paying, it is possible for someone to get taken. Hence, this page.
From my point of view, living on the west coast, I am forced to pay gallery and/or eBay prices, as the cost of traveling to the studio to pick up a piece or two is cost prohibitive. Like his collectors worldwide, I love to touch my pieces. The fact that I am paying 4-5 times what Warren charges is crazy. In fact, I would argue that if Warren were to sell his pieces to MORE galleries and sell his work on eBay that would drive DOWN prices. As competition enters the market it would force prices down. Last but not least, he has since shut down his shop. This is not going to lower prices.
I am also a rational economist. Auctions are 'market rate', free of ceilings and floors. I believe that Warren has held his pricing as a matter of principle, that a piece should be used and handled and cost effective enough to use daily. I also have studied American Indian Art. A lot of pieces that started out as 'curios' and 'functional' pieces now grace very high mantles. The reality is that people have come to understand that, though functional, it is also graceful and beautiful.
SUPPLY AND DEMAND
He has many more people who love his work. He has limited access to his work. It has become a question of supply and demand. By my estimation, he makes approximately 3400 pieces a year. He has been doing this for 55 years. There are typically a number of items that Warren sets aside specifically for galleries and exhibitions. Nonetheless, museums, collectors, and galleries are all looking at the same pool of items. I don't know what a marquee item is, but based upon exhibition books they appear to be the larger pieces. Personally, I have a number of these. But I think the smaller pieces best capture the essence of Warren.
MARKED VS. UNMARKED
This one is tough. I have studied the markets and it appears marked pieces sell for quite a bit more. It may be that people want to be 'assured' that they are buying a 'real' piece. I don't own any marked pieces, mainly because I can't afford them. In fact, I have never even seen a marked piece. However, I have purchased my pieces through galleries, so I am somewhat assured that it is the real deal. To me it doesn't matter. I have studied enough to be able to identify a piece. I do have two pieces that I am not sure of. Mainly because of glaze variance on one and form on the other. But I really don't care. If they are Warren pieces or a piece from a local college student they are equally beautiful. This, I believe, is what Warren wants us to understand.
Prices have continued to rise. As such, I am updating some price ranges. The pricing is a range between gallery and auction:
Tea Bowl: $200-$350
Medium Platter: $550-$750
Large Platter (18 in.+) $900-$1200
Small Vase: $400-$600
Larger Vase: $1200 - $1500
As of 2012, prices have continued to rise. As such, I am updating some price ranges. The studio price is no longer relevant, as we can no longer use this as a benchmark. The pricing is a range between gallery and auction:
Tea Bowl: $200-$350
Platter: $600 for <15 inches, $900+ for >16 inches
Larger Vase: $800 - $1500. Drop rim bowls, covered boxes, and teabowls are still favorites and tend to sell fast.
There are two pieces worth mentioning specifically:
Drop Rim Bowls: $450+
That being said, here are some results from a few online and offline auction sites.
A $10 bowl out of Warren's studio sells between $40-$70;
A $8 yunomi out of Warren's studio sells between $40-$120;
A $80 teapot fetches around $180-$220 in a gallery or at auction.
Some more extreme prices:
A Yunomi featured on the cover of a recent book sold for over $1200;
Large vases (12" and higher) typically sell for between $600-$900;
Platters (13" and larger) typically sell for between $300-$900.