After a significant decline in 2020, the global art market returned to pre-pandemic levels in 2021, generating $65.1 million, according to an annual survey released today by Art Basel and UBS. That figure is about $15 billion more than McAndrew reported last year for 2020, and just above the $64 billion it brought in in 2019.
Economist Clare McAndrew, author of the report, surveyed several hundred international galleries and more than 2,000 wealthy art collectors based in the US, UK, Asia and Europe.
The United States remains the largest national art trade market, accounting for 43% of the total value share. In second and third place are China and the United Kingdom, which account for 20 and 17% respectively.
The United States saw its sales increase by 33%, to around $28 billion, in 2021. Sales in Greater China increased by 35%, to $13.4 billion.
“Dealers and auction houses have successfully adapted to a new two-tier system of online and offline sales and events, and to the growing wealth of the [high net worth] collectors have helped support demand at the higher end of the market,” McAndrew said in a statement accompanying the report.
Perhaps the most significant art market trend of the past year has been the NFT boom. From McAndrew’s report, it seems that many collectors have invested in this trend.
Nearly three-quarters of collectors surveyed had purchased art-related NFTs in 2021, and NFT sales through online platforms accounted for $2.6 billion. More than half of collectors surveyed said they would be interested in acquiring digital artwork over the next year, with millennials making up the majority.
Gallery sales reached $34.7 billion in 2021. This represents an 18% increase from 2020. More than half of merchants surveyed said their sales increased in 2021, while 26% reported reported a decline in sales compared to the same period in 2020. Thirteen percent of dealers saw their sales remain at the same level between 2020 and 2021.
In-person events came back with a bang last year, but it seems art fairs still aren’t helping dealers as much as they did before the pandemic. Sales made by dealers at art fairs accounted for 29% of their annual totals in 2021, according to McAndrew’s report. This figure is still far from the 43% reported in 2019.
Meanwhile, public auctions reached $26.3 billion in 2021, a 47% increase from the 2020 total. Private sales at auction houses generated $4.1 billion. dollars, up 32% from the $3.1 billion reported in 2020. The United States and China were the largest markets for public auctions, with 32% and 33% share, respectively.
McAndrew’s report indicates that online sales continued to grow in 2021. Online sales channels accounted for 20% of all dealership sales, reaching $13.3 billion (including sales made through showrooms). online viewing hosted by art fairs). This figure is more than double the figures reported by McAndrew for 2019.
The current global crisis has not deterred the ultra-rich from investing in art. Median spending by collectors surveyed in the report nearly doubled between 2020 and 2021, reaching $274,000 last year. This increase is due in part to baby boomer collectors, who, despite purchasing fewer works than their younger counterparts, had the highest average spend, at $346,000.