Report: Global art market demonstrates resilience
The following is an excerpt from the Art Basel and UBS Global Art Market Report 2023. The report, published annually, discusses prominent trends in the art market, including how it has fared in the face of economic uncertainty and what opportunities lie ahead for the coming year. The full report is available for free download here.
“The global art market continued to grow in 2022, exceeding pre-pandemic levels. This was largely catalyzed by the return of the event-driven cycle of art fairs, gallery openings and auctions, as well as gains at the highest end of the value spectrum,” says Noah Horowitz, CEO, Art Basel.
Global art sales increased 3% year on year to an estimated $67.8 billion, bringing the market above its pre-pandemic level in 2019. However, performance varied by sector, region and price segments. The main driver of growth in values across all sectors in 2022 continued to be the high end of the market.
Christl Novakovic, CEO, UBS Europe SE, and Head of Wealth Management Europe, comments: “The year 2022 saw the art market hold onto its post-pandemic rebound and strengthen further despite severe economic uncertainty and the return of war to Europe. Financial markets slumped as central banks battled inflation and as television sets flickered with scenes of willful destruction we thought, perhaps foolishly, had been consigned to the past. Collectors, however, remained committed to the market and reengaged with live events while exhibitions, auctions and fairs returned to fuller schedules. This cautious growth in the face of deep uncertainty is testimony to the strength of the post-pandemic art market and reason to believe in its resilience.”
THE U.S. MARKET
The U.S. market retained its leading position in the global art market, with its share of sales by value increasing from 43% to 45% year on year. The UK market moved back into second place with 18% of sales, followed by the Chinese market, whose share decreased from 20% to 17%. The U.S. has seen one of the most robust recoveries from the pandemic of all the major art markets. ...
Jason Chandler, Head of WM Americas at UBS Global Wealth Management, explains: “The U.S. market roared back to life, again securing its premier position in the global ranks. This was bolstered by growth in dealer sales and historic auction events. We continue to see strong interest in art from our clients who share our belief that art inspires, sparks conversations and provides new perspectives.”
After a significant 25% decline in sales in 2020 during the pandemic, the U.S. has seen one of the most robust recoveries of all the major markets. Sales bounced back from the pandemic in 2021, increasing by just over one-third in value to $28.0 billion. Growth continued in 2022 with a further increase of 8% year on year to $30.2 billion, its highest level to date. This was driven by a major uplift at the high end of the auction sector, including Christie’s sale of Paul Allen’s remarkable collection in New York [which] realized more than $1.6 billion in November, along with more moderate but positive growth in dealer sales. The U.S. was also still the largest individual market for fairs, accounting for 24% of the total number of events that took place around the world in 2022.
Looking ahead to 2023, 77% of high-net-worth collectors surveyed by Art Economics and UBS in 2022 are positive about the outlook for the global art market, and a majority (55%) plans to buy art in 2023. In certain markets, such as the important U.S. market, their share is as high as 65%. 45% of dealers expect an improvement in sales, with 10% predicting a significant improvement. In the auction sector, surveys of the midtier businesses show that 48% forecast an improvement in their sales, and 60% expect their online sales to increase.
Horowitz comments: “While signals of macroeconomic volatility are a dominant talking point as we head into 2023, the data shows us a resilient art market bolstered by deep-pocketed collectors, particularly at the high end.”