Art Basel UBS Reports 22% Drop In The Art Market 2021 

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Art Basel and UBS have presented The Art Market, an annual global analysis. It is a reliable reflection of how resilient the art market is after a year of unprecedented lockdown. It found global sales of art and antiques reached an estimated $50.1 billion in 2020, down 22% in 2019 and 27% since 2018.

The Art Market covers all aspects of the international market and highlights the most critical developments in the previous year. Authored by Dr Clare McAndrew, founder of Arts Economics, it is an independent and objective study, analyzing the global art market by looking at its different segments such as gallery business, auction houses, changing patterns of global wealth and art collecting, art fairs, online sales, and the economic impact of the art market in general.

Key Points

Despite its biggest fall in sales since 2009, the US market retained its leading position, with a share of 42% of global sales values, with China and the UK on par at 20% Dealers and galleries, analyzing sales and other vital indicators, assessing how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted different value segments and sectors of the market. This chapter looks at costs, margins, and debt in the industry and artist representation. It also addresses the changing priorities and outlook for dealers in 2021.

The fallout from the COVID-19 crisis had a negative effect on aggregate dealer sales, with values declining by 20% to an estimated $29.3 billion in 2020, after a marginal increase of 2% in 2019. Auction sales of fine and decorative art and antiques (excluding private sales) were $17.6 billion in 2020, a decline of 30% in 2019. Private sales were conservatively estimated to have reached over $3.2 billion in 2020 (up 36% in 2019). Total auction sales, including public and private, were estimated to have reached $20.8 billion. An overview of art fairs, reporting on the dramatic changes to the art fair calendar in 2020 and the impact this has had on art fairs, galleries, and collectors. It assesses the outlook for 2021 given continuing uncertainties, presenting the results of surveys on high net worth (HNW) collectors, art fairs, and dealers.

From 365 global art fairs planned for 2020, 61% were cancelled, 37% held live events, and the remaining 2% of fairs held a hybrid, alternative event. The online art market and the rapid evolution in sales in 2021. The chapter shows how the dealer sector shifted sales online in 2020 and at developing online viewing rooms (OVAs). It also shows the growth of online auctions and provides insights into how HNW collectors have interacted with the market online and through social media.

The contraction of sales overall, aggregate online sales reached a record high of $12.4 billion, doubling in value from 2019. The potential employment and economic effects of the pandemic on the art market, looking at its impact on employment as well as the range of ancillary and support industries connected to the art trade. It concludes the report by reviewing some of the critical issues arising from the crisis in 2020 that may continue to affect the market in 2021. It is estimated that approximately 305,250 businesses were operating in the global art and antique market in 2020, directly employing about 2.9 million people.

Top Photo: Art Basel Miami Beach P C Robinson © Artlyst 2021

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