Noah Charney has a piece in Salon about the paradox of the Affordable Art Fair where he asks whether price has an influence on desirability. Though Charney goes about the argument in a different way, he does come to a point where he suggests that high prices may reflect nothing more than demand (or the perception of demand.)
He quotes a collector who, he says, “has an impressive collection of museum-quality works, valued in the low millions”
I think this is absolutely an issue, always has been, with the very best art by already famous artists, alive or long deceased. If I hear that a fellow collector (or a rival one) is interested, then my interest rises. We saw this as a proactive strategy with Saatchi. His enthusiasm for buying Young British Artists drew other collectors to them, afterwards driving up the price of the works he’d already bought. It’s like a run in the stock market.