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Looking back at 2021: The Key Findings of the Art Market 2022 Report by Art Basel and UBS.

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Published in March 2022, the latest Art Market Report by Art Basel and UBS provides us with an account on what has been going on in 2021. 

Written by Economist and Founder of Arts Economics Dr Clare McAndrew, the comprehensive overview of the Art Market underlines how there have been notable changes since 2019. 

Firstly, global sales recovered strongly in 2021 reaching $65.1 billion and surpassed pre-pandemic levels. In fact, the Art Market saw an extremely positive climb of 29% after the catastrophic fall in 2020.

Unsurprisingly, with 43% of worldwide sales by value, the US leads the way increasing by 33% since 2020, reaching just over $28.0 billion. It is followed by China whose market improved by 35%, holding 20% of worldwide sales, and surpassed the UK market, which increased by 14% and now accounts for 17% of worldwide sales by value.

 

Art Basel and UBS, Sales in the Major Art Markets 2009-2021 (page 30, ‘The Art Market 2022 Report’), 2022, Courtesy of Art Basel and UBS ©Arts Economics (2022)

 

However, these three leading markets were not the only ones to see the tables turn. The French market increased by 50% after the 30% drop in 2020, reaching its highest point in 10 years.

Further, 55% of dealers were more profitable in 2021 than in 2020, and fine, decorative and antique sales at public auction houses improved by 47%.

Outside the global art market, the unforgettable NFT platforms saw a real explosion of sales. They expanded over hundredfold in 2021 hitting $2.6 billion. The increase was even greater for collectibles which hit $8.6 billion.

According to Art Economics and UBS Investor Watch, an incredible 74% of all collectors surveyed purchased NFT artworks in 2021, having a median expenditure of $9000.

 

Art Basel and UBS, Top Five Business Priorities for Dealers 2019-2023 (page 118, ‘The Art Market 2022 Report’), 2022, Courtesy of Art Basel and UBS ©Arts Economics (2022)

 

With NFTs entering auction houses - although at limited values for now – new audiences were reached. In fact, 78% of NFT bidders at Sotheby’s last year were new to the famous auction house, and more than 50% were under 40 years old.

In comparison to last year’s report, in 2021 online sales continued to expand, however slightly more moderately. Also, after the avid interest shown by Millenial collectors in 2020, overall Gen X and Boomers spent in average the most last year –$346,000.

Lastly, in-person art fairs returned in 2021. Sales slowly advanced and look promising as dealers reported that participation at 2 out of 3 fairs in 2021 being in-person rather than online.

On the whole, revived after being overthrown by the events of the last couple of years, the digital and the young have continued to influence the overall market while traditional trends and channels seem to have reaffirmed their presence in today’s Art Market.

 

Art Basel and UBS, Share of Value of Art and Collectibles in All NFT Sales 2019-2021 (page 41, ‘The Art Market 2022 Report’), 2022, Courtesy of Art Basel and UBS ©Arts Economics (2022) with data from NonFungible.com

 

“The art market has demonstrated incredible resilience in 2021, with a strong uplift in aggregate sales, despite still operating under some very challenging conditions. […] However, as the market gained momentum again, we have seen that the break in schedules and shift to digital has done little to restructure the market’s hierarchies, and the high end began once again to pull away, with an even denser concentration of value on a small number of artists and businesses”  (Dr Clare McAndrew, Economist and Founder of Arts Economics)

 

Art Basel and UBS, Sales of Art and Collectibles NFTs 2019-2021 (page 42, ‘The Art Market 2022 Report’), 2022, Courtesy of Art Basel and UBS ©Arts Economics (2022) with data from NonFungible.com

 

Cover image: Art Basel and UBS, ‘The Art Market 2022 Report’, 2022, Courtesy of Art Basel and UBS. Art Basel and UBS, Sales of Art and Collectibles NFTs 2019-2021 (page 42, ‘The Art Market 2022 Report’), 2022, Courtesy of Art Basel and UBS ©Arts Economics (2022) with data from NonFungible.com

Written by Zoë Rivas Zanello

Stay Tuned on Kooness magazine for more exciting news from the art world.

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