Art Basel and UBS Global Art Market Report confirms highest global net worth resides in the Asia-Pacific region for the first time in history.
The Art Basel and UBS Global Art Market Report 2017 is the first of its kind to collect and analyse art market data on a global scale. Art Radar reviews the key findings.
On 22 March 2017 Art Basel and UBS Global released the publication of the inaugural Art Market Report – an annual comprehensive and macro-level analysis of the global art and antiques market carried out by independent economic analysis organisation Art Economics, founded by Dr Clare McAndrew, who is also the author of the publication and previously authored the TEFAF Art Market Report.
Art Economics have spent the last year gathering and analysing data from dealers, auction houses, art and antique collectors, art and financial databases, industry experts as well as other relevant agents involved in the art trade. The publication looks at the key trends in the global art market, reporting on how different regions, sectors and value segments have performed throughout the year. Art Radar highlights a few key findings.
Global sales in 2016
Chapter 1 of the report provides an overview of the global market in general, looking at the value, volume and regional distribution of sales of art and antiques in 2016 and comparing it with the decade leading up to it. While things have certainly been looking up after the post-2008 slumps, the global art market experienced an 11 percent drop in 2016 compared to 2015, achieving total sales of an estimated USD56.6 billion.
The global art market’s top three players (United States, United Kingdom and China), despite cementing their dominance with a shared 82 percent of all global sales by value, suffered significant declines. The US dropped 16 percent in 2016 to USD22.9 billion due largely to lower auction results, while the UK market dropped 12 percent over the year to USD12 billion as a result of the drop in the pound’s value, intensified after the Brexit results in June 2016. Meanwhile sales in China fell by 2 percent, reaching USD11.5 billion in total.
If anyone had doubts about the prominence of the gallery space in the age of the internet, the second chapter of the report has quelled them: the gallery was confirmed as the most important channel for dealer sales in 2016, accounting for 51 percent. The art fair is creeping up behind: in 2016 art fair sales reached USD13.3 billion, an increase of 57 percent since 2010. As such, dealers are earning increasingly more from art fairs but art fairs are also costing more: fairs were the largest area of dealer spending in 2016, representing 22 percent of their total costs. Online sales proved to be a minor channel with just 8 percent of the total.
The report also focuses on the auction sector results, looking at sales by region and value segment. Due to the fall in US auction sales and relatively stable performance at the high end in China, Chinese auction sales exceeded the US market in 2016, giving China the leading market share with 34 percent by value versus 32 percent in the US.
The report also offered up to date information from the largest top-tier auction houses on the profiles of their buyers. While buyers come from all over the world, US buyers tended to represent a slightly larger share on average in 2016. The report also suggests, however, that the influence of US buyers has decreased over the last ten years, particularly with the increased importance of Asian buyers. The report gathered further data direct from individual dealers, who also reported a geographically diverse range of buyers. The majority of dealers consulted (69 percent) did however cite US buyers as among their top three most important buyer nationalities (up from 59 percent of the sample in 2015).
The report splits art into five art historical categories: The Fine Art Market, Post War and Contemporary Art, Modern Art, Impressionist and Post-Impressionist and finally Old Masters, confirming the largest sector of the art market in 2016 as Post War and Contemporary art, which accounts for 52 percent of the market. Post War and Contemporary art was also the most exhibited worldwide, accounting for a share of 92 percent of the number of exhibitions in 2016.
2015 was a better year than 2016; however, living artists accounted for 41 percent of the value of sales in the Post War and Contemporary sector, down 7 percent. The highest selling works by living artists were The Grand Snowing Mountains (2013) by Cui Ruzhuo at USD39.6 (sold by Poly Auction in China), followed by A B, Still (1986) by Gerard Richter. Modern art remained the second largest sector of the art market, accounting for 23 percent of the value of sales and 29 percent by volume. The Modern sector’s highest selling painting was Pablo Picasso’s Femme Assise which was sold for USD63.8 million by Sotheby’s in the UK.
The report also provides a contextual overview of world wealth, showing how changes in the size and distribution of wealth within and between regions are shaping trends in the art market. The findings, gathered in chapter 5, are based on data regarding high net worth wealth and present the results of a survey of US high net worth individuals carried out for the report by UBS and Art Economics. The findings confirm that despite the global financial crisis, which saw High net wealth plummet by 25 percent over 2008-2009, high net worth wealth has grown to nearly four times its size over the last 20 years.
The Asia-Pacific region is the main engine: the report confirms Asia-Pacific as the region containing the highest number of high-net-worth individuals in 2016. With wealth reaching USD17.4 trillion, the Asia-Pacific region overtakes North America (at USD16.6 trillion) for the first time in history. While the rates of growth are likely to remain faster in the emerging and Asian economies, the US is however likely to remain the largest centre of wealth worldwide by a considerable margin.
Art world employment
According to the report, the art world directly employed an estimated 3 million people in 2016, up 5 percent year-on-year from 2015. Unlike the wider labour force in many regions, the gender balance in the art market was proved to be predominantly female in 2016, with women making up 59 percent of the dealer workforce, 62 percent in top-tier auction houses and 54 percent in the second-tier.
- Preview: 10 highlights from Art Central Hong Kong 2017 – March 2017 – Art Central Hong Kong brings together key galleries from the Asia-Pacific region
- On the value of art: Chinese artist Shen Shaomin at Klein Sun Gallery, New York – in pictures – March 2017 – conceptual artist Shen Shaomin explores notions of value in the art world in his latest solo exhibition at Klein Sun Gallery in New York
- The Global Gallery: Thaddaeus Ropac at Talking Galleries 2017 – video summary – March 2017 – influential gallerist Thaddaeus Ropac opened the 2017 Talking Galleries Barcelona Symposium with a call for a return to the gallery space
- India Art Fair 2017: a gathering place for South Asian art – round-up – February 2017 – Art Radar takes a look at some of the highlights of this year’s Fair
- Regional collecting and learning from antiquities: Hong Kong collector Hallam Chow – interview – January 2017 – Hong Kong collector Hallam Chow talks to Art Radar about regional collecting scene and what a contemporary art collector can learn from antiques
Subscribe to Art Radar for more news on the global art market