If you do any kind of research on art collectors, this week’s article by Kristina Gropper is a real treat. Kristina is our resident expert on art markets, art collecting and collectors, and today Kristina walks us through the Art Basel & UBS Art Market Report and shares her insights on what stands out to her as noteworthy. Enjoy! ~Helen
In mid-March, the spring daffodils blossom in my front yard. They are a welcome reminder that longer, sun-soaked days are approaching. Around the same time, I await the arrival of the newest Art Basel & UBS Art Market Report prepared by Dr. Clare McAndrew. Full of insight, charts, and jaw-dropping examples of post-war/contemporary art, it has become a ritual to flip through the annual report online and listen to the accompanying podcast episode from The Week In Art.
The annual art market report presents data collected and reviewed by Dr. Clare McAndrew, a cultural economist specializing in the arts, antiques, and collectibles markets. In 2005 Dr. McAndrew founded Arts Economics, a research and consulting firm focused on the arts economy. Since 2016, the firm has published annual reports sharing trends in the global art market for Art Basel and UBS.
While other reports like the Knight Frank Wealth Report touch briefly on luxury spending, Dr. McAndrew’s comprehensive reports focus solely on the global art market. The Art Newspaper describes the reports as the gold standard in decoding the art market, and I have come to consider them paramount as well.
In addition to annual reports, Dr. McAndrew has recently conducted potent mid-year surveys. The 2020 mid-year survey was particularly perceptive in understanding the ramifications of COVID-19 on art employment, online art sales, and auction sales. In my blog post from November 2020, I shared some takeaways from this mid-year survey and other contemporary reports. Now that two and a half years have passed, let’s revisit this topic and explore highlights from the most recent report.
- This year’s survey covered 2021 and interviewed 2,339 high net worth (HNW) collectors. The HNW survey data has grown to include ten markets, including Brazil for the first time. The median expenditure on fine art, decorative art, and antiques blossomed from $72,000 in 2019 to $274,000 in 2021.
- In 2021, the global art market showed its resilience. After dropping to $50.3 billion in 2020, the art market recovered to $65.1 billion, which surpassed where it was in 2019 ($64.4 billion).
- The three hubs remained the US, UK, and China. The United States retained its top position (43%), and Greater China is now in second place at 20%. The UK market dropped to 17%. Small shifts in these hubs may be due to the increased survey size (as noted above, Brazil was added) and the strength of alternative art markets in Europe. Art sales in France, for example, increased in value by 50% in 2021 to $4.7 billion. Sales in Germany, Spain, and Italy also saw growth.
- Online sales accounted for 20% of sales in the global art market, which was a 5% drop from the previous year, but still double 2019 levels (9%).
- The aggregate dealer sector was resilient and bounced back to around 2019 levels. Within this sector, the art fair calendar returned in 2021, and fair sales increase to 29% of total dealer sales, but nowhere near where it was in 2019 (43%). In 2021, local and regionally focused art fairs, especially fairs in or close to major art markets or cities with dense populations of HNW collectors, have done well given the reluctance of collectors to travel.
- Looking at auction sales, private sales increased by 32% to an estimated $4 billion. Total sales conducted by auctions, including public and private sales, were estimated to reach $30.4 billion in 2021, a 10% increase over 2019 levels.
- Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) were not included in the $65.1 billion total value of global art sales from 2021. The rationale behind this is most art NFTs were sold outside of galleries, dealers, and auction houses. Even so, the report shared that sales of art and collectibles NFTs increased from $30 million in 2020 to $11.1 billion in 2021. According to the report, 75% of art NFTs were resales and owned for just over a month before being resold. An astonishing 74% of HNW collectors purchased an art-based NFT in 2021. A majority (88%) of HNW collectors expressed interest in purchasing art NFTs in the future, but time will tell if this trend holds.
Do you concentrate on art collectors and art markets? What stood out to you from this report?