Mr Gareth Fletcher

Research project: An Analysis of the Semiotics of Provenance Information in Establishing Symbolic and Economic Value for Objects within the Near Eastern Antiquities Market


The research seeks to consider the identity, and nature of the provenance information associated with cultural objects to identify opportunities through which it can be used to influence patterns of consumption within the international art market. By employing semiotic theory, behavioural economics and automated textual analysis, the research aims to reconsider the sociological, cultural and economic value of past, present and future ownership associations emerging within the biographies of cultural objects. Through an evaluation of historic pricing information and associated provenance information, this research aims to measure the evolution of relationships and formulation of reputations that influence marked demand. A mixed methods approach will use existing scholarship and proprietary market information to examine consumption preferences within the antiquities trade. By reconsidering the function and meaningfulness of provenance information, this research has the potential to influence the future supply of illicitly-sourced objects circulating on the international art market.

  • Research degree: PhD
  • Title of project: An Analysis of the Semiotics of Provenance Information in Establishing Symbolic and Economic Value for Objects within the Near Eastern Antiquities Market
  • Other research supervisor: Professor Fran Lloyd


In addition to my PhD studies, I lecture in Art Business at Sotheby's Institute of Art.

Areas of research interest

  • Evaluating the provenance of cultural objects
  • Considering the interrelationship of cultural and economic value
  • Semiotics and hermeneutics
  • Behavioural economics


  • MA Art Business, Sotheby's Institute of Art
  • BFA Film Directing, University of Canterbury (NZ)
  • BA History; Art History, University of Canterbury (NZ)

Funding or awards received

  • TECHNE Doctoral Award


  • ‘The Ethics of Provenance Research and the Art Market,' in Provenance Research: A Handbook for Buyers, Sellers, Researchers, Art-World Professionals and Collectors, edited by Arthur Tomkins, London: Lund Humphries (Forthcoming 2019).
  • ‘Scores on the Doors: Establishing a Certificate of Virtue Framework for Future Art Market Regulation' Cultural Heritage Law and Ethics: Mapping Recent Developments #26, Geneva: Schulthess, 2017.
  • ‘Fakes, Forgeries and Thefts,' in Art Business Today: 20 Key Topics, edited by Jos Hackforth-Jones and Iain Robertson, 106-114, London: Lund Humphries, 2016.

Conference papers

  • 'The Complexity of Control: An Evaluation of the Discourse Between Regulation and Deterrence in the Future Economics of the International Art Market' at the 2018 Interdisciplinary Art Crime conference organised by Association for Research into Crimes against Art (ARCA), Italy, June 2018.
  • 'Different Strokes for Different Folks: A Re-Evaluation of the Ontology of Provenance Research towards a more Responsive Research Discipline' at 2018 Transatlantic Cultural Property Crime Symposium: Combatting Cultural Property Crime: New Directions and Multidisciplinary Collaboration, organised by Queen Mary University of London, London, June 2018.
  • ‘The Utility of Trust: A Comparative Analysis of the Presentation and Impact of Provenance Information in Establishing Consumer Confidence within the Art Fair' at The Art Fair conference organised by The International Art Market Studies Association (TIAMSA), Sotheby's Institute of Art, London, July 2017.