This paper presents a comprehensive study of sale rates and prices in impressionist and contemporary art auctions. Our analysis is based on a detailed dataset of impressionist and modern art auctions and contemporary art auctions. We use this data to estimate and test a ”search” model of seller behavior and reserve prices, similar to that developed in the labor economics literature. In our model, we find that the reserve price should be a constant proportion of the estimated price. Furthermore, the reserve price and therefore sales rate, should depend only upon the variance in log prices and the seller’s discount rate. We estimate that the secret reserve price is set on average between 70-80% of the low estimate.