The Art Basel and UBS Global Art Market Report by undefined

Press Release


The Art Market 2020 reveals resilience in dealer and private sales despite a year of challenges

The fourth edition of The Art Basel and UBS Global Art Market Report is now available. Written by renowned cultural economist Dr. Clare McAndrew, Founder of Arts Economics, The Art Market 2020, published by Art Basel and UBS, presents the results of a comprehensive and macro-level analysis of the global art market in 2019. Addressing the various sectors and dynamics of the global art market, this year's report also delves deeper into the collecting behavior of High Net Worth Collectors. The full report is free to download on the Art Basel and UBS websites.

Key findings of The Art Basel and UBS Global Art Market Report include:

  • Global Sales: Global sales of art and antiques reached an estimated $64.1 billion in 2019. After two years of growth, declines in the three largest art markets contributed to a fall in sales of 5% year-on-year, returning the market to just above its 2017 level.

  • Leading Markets: The three major art markets – the United States, the United Kingdom and China – continued to account for a majority of the value of global sales in 2019, although their share decreased slightly to 82%, down 2% year-on-year.
    • The United States was again the largest art market with sales reaching an estimated $28.3 billion and an estimated market share of 44%, stable on 2018.
    • The United Kingdom retained its second place in 2019 with a share of 20%, down 9% year on year on 2018, and an estimated $12.7 billion despite the challenges faced by many businesses during the country’s prolonged exit from the European Union.
    • China remained the third largest market, with a drop in share of 1% year-on-year, representing an 18% share of the market and an estimated $11.7 billion in sales – despite its slowed economic growth in 2019.

  • Dealer Figures: Sales in the gallery and dealer sector were estimated to have reached $36.8 billion in 2019, growing just over 2% year-on-year. Sales figures varied widely between different segments of the market – with the high end driving the moderate growth in aggregate sales. Dealers in the range from $250,000 to $500,000 saw the greatest improvement overall, from a decline in sales in 2018 to growth of 17% in 2019, followed closely by dealers at the highest end of the market, above $30 million, whose sales increased by 16%. Finding new clients was the number one challenge over the next five years flagged by dealers across the entire sector.

  • Auction Figures: Sales at public auction reached $24.2 billion in 2019, down 17% after two years of consecutive growth. Auction sales declined by double digits across all leading markets: sales in the US were down 23%, reaching just over $9 billion; sales in the UK declined by 20% to $4.3 billion; and sales in China declined by 16% to $7.1 billion. However, France saw sales rise by 16% to over $1.6 billion, bringing its global market share of the auction market up two percentage points to 7%. While the economy is likely to have had an impact on sellers and buyers alike, the slowdown in the auction market was largely supply-driven, with a lower number of very high-priced lots coming up for sale. Although public auction sales declined, private sales increased, with all of the major auction houses posting significant gains in this category, totaling $1.8 billion at Christie's and Sotheby's.

  • Art Fairs: Art fairs remained a central part of the global art market, with aggregate sales estimated to reach $16.6 billion in 2019, increasing by less than 1% year-on-year. The share of the total value of global dealer sales made at art fairs has grown from less than 30% in 2010 to 45% in 2019 (declining 1% year-on -year from 2018). New data from this year’s dealer survey shed light on the distribution of art fair sales: 15% of sales were estimated to take place pre-fair ($2.5 billion); 64% during fairs ($10.6 billion); and 21% were made after the fair as a direct result of participation ($3.5 billion). On average, dealers reported spending an estimated $4.6 billion attending and exhibiting at fairs, a decline of 4% year-on-year.

  • Online Sales: After more than five years of continuous growth in sales, the online market slowed in 2019 with online sales of art and antiques estimated at $5.9 billion, a decline of 2% year-on-year, and maintaining a 9% share of global sales by value. While online sales are impacting the auction sector at all levels, they are critically important for smaller auction houses: those with sales under $1 million made 23% of their sales online versus 4% for those with sales over $10 million. Dealers reported that they made 5% of their total sales online in 2019,although there was a range of ratios reported depending on the level of turnover.For dealers with turnover less than $1 million, 12% of the value of their sales were online versus just 1% for those with annual sales in excess of $10 million. 57% of those sales were to new buyers, up 5% year-on-year. Based on the survey of HNW collectors in partnership with UBS, nearly half (48%) of the collectors used online platforms to purchase art either always or often.HNW millennial collectors were the most regular users of the online channel, with only 8% having never bought online. Although 65% of HNW collectors had not exceeded a price of $50,000 online for an individual work, one quarter had spent more than $100,000 and 8% had spent over $1 million, double the share that had spent at that price level in 2018.

  • Global Wealth and Art Buyers: In collaboration with UBS, Arts Economics was able to gather fresh insights on the collecting behavior of 1,300 HNW individuals in seven markets: France, Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States, Taiwan, Hong Kong SAR and Singapore – the largest geographical coverage to date. The survey found that HNW millennial collectors were the most active buyers and spent the most, averaging total expenditure of $3 million over two years, more than six times the spending of Boomers. Female collectors also had a higher average level of spending than men, with a substantial 16% having spent over $10 million. 61% of the HNW collectors surveyed had resold works from their collections – millennial collectors being the most likely at 71%. As millennials begin to dominate further, this tendency may continue to rise.

  • Economic Impact: The art market directly employed an estimated 3 million people in 2019 – with approximately 310,810 businesses operating in the global art, antiques and collectibles market, relatively stable on 2018. It is estimated that last year, the global art trade spent $19.9 billion on a range of external support services directly linked to their businesses, a slight decline of 2% year-on-year, supporting 368,860 further jobs.

Please click here to download the full Art Basel and UBS Global Art Market Report for free.

Download the full press release here.