The Art Market : Global Sales and Regional Performance 2022

The Art Market : Global Sales and Regional Performance 2022
VINCENT VAN GOGH (1853-1890), Verger avec cyprès. Source - Christie's

The global art market is a complex and dynamic ecosystem, with sales performance varying across different regions and sales channels. This report, based on the Art Basel and UBS Art Market Report 2023, provides a detailed analysis of the overview of global sales and regional market performance.

Table of Content

  1. An Optimistic Beginning
  2. Variable Performance Across the Board
  3. Bouncing Back: The Market's Resilience
  4. High-End Market Fuels Growth
  5. Past Vs Present: The Recovery Comparison
  6. The Role of Wealthy Collectors
  7. Transaction Volume: The Rollercoaster Ride
  8. The NFT Phenomenon
  9. US Leads the Pack
  10. UK: A Tale of Resilience
  11. China: A Year of Challenges
  12. France and the European Union: Steady Performers
  13. New York: The Global Art Hub
  14. Conclusion

The Global Art Market in 2022: A Year of Hope, Challenges, and Adaptation

An Optimistic Beginning

The year 2022 began on a hopeful note for the global art market. Expectations were high for a surge in sales as art fairs and auctions resumed their regular schedules. However, the year’s end revealed a more subdued growth of 3%, bringing the market's total to an estimated $67.8 billion.

Sales in the Global Art Market 2009–2022, Source.

Variable Performance Across the Board

Despite this moderate expansion, the industry's performance varied significantly by sector, region, and segment. China's stringent COVID-19 policies led to a myriad of event and sale cancellations, adversely impacting the nation's art market growth.

Bouncing Back: The Market's Resilience

Nevertheless, the global art market demonstrated remarkable resilience, rebounding from a 22% contraction in 2020 and surpassing its pre-pandemic levels with sales reaching $65.9 billion in 2021. This resurgence was largely attributable to the art trade's swift transition to digital channels and strong sales within the market's high-end segment.

High-End Market Fuels Growth

The most expensive end of the market continued to drive growth, with works priced over $10 million in the auction sector being the only segment to display an increase. Similarly, higher-end dealers substantially outperformed their lower-tier counterparts. This differential performance points to a concerning trend, the potential exacerbation of inequalities within the art trade.

Past Vs Present: The Recovery Comparison

Comparing the market's performance to past trends provides interesting insights. The last major recession in the art market occurred in 2009, leading to a 36% plunge in sales to $39.5 billion. The recovery period from 2009 to 2011 witnessed a 63% surge in the value of global art sales. By contrast, the increase in sales from 2020 to 2022 was more modest at 35%.

The Role of Wealthy Collectors

Nevertheless, sales in 2022 surpassed pre-pandemic figures, trailing only behind the market peak in 2014. A significant contributing factor to this recovery has been the robust demand at the higher end of the market, driven by wealthy collectors. In fact, billionaire wealth has more than doubled in the last decade and increased by over a third since 2019. This wealth expansion has cushioned the art market during the COVID-19 crisis, aiding in its rapid recovery.

Transaction Volume: The Rollercoaster Ride

While the overall sales volume fell drastically during the pandemic, dropping by an estimated 23% to 31.4 million in 2020, it bounced back in 2021, with the number of sales rising by 19% to 37.3 million. In 2022, the number of transactions saw a marginal increase of 1%, totaling 37.8 million.

The NFT Phenomenon

A point to note is that the figures for 2022 do not account for art-related sales on Non-Fungible Token (NFT) platforms. As the art world increasingly intersects with digital innovation, it will be fascinating to observe how such platforms reshape the art market landscape in the years to come.

2022 Art Market Performance: A Tale of Resilience and Regional Dominance

US Leads the Pack

In 2022, the triumvirate of the United States, the United Kingdom, and China continued to rule the art market, collectively commanding 80% of global sales. Spearheading this dominance was the US, claiming 45% of sales, followed by the UK and China with 18% and 17% respectively.

The US art market showcased robust performance in 2022, surging by 8% year-on-year to a commanding $30.2 billion. The driver of this growth was largely the auction sector, which orchestrated a significant comeback from a 25% sales decline in 2020, brought on by the pandemic.

Global Art Market Share by Value in 2022, Source.

UK: A Tale of Resilience

On the other side of the Atlantic, the UK market experienced a rebound in 2021, boasting a 15% year-on-year increase, amounting to just over $11.4 billion. This bounce back, despite the combined pressures of Brexit and the pandemic, is noteworthy. The market maintained its momentum into 2022, posting a further growth of 5% to reach $11.9 billion.

China: A Year of Challenges

China's market, comprising Mainland China and Hong Kong, bore the brunt of COVID-19 related lockdown measures. These restrictions resulted in a significant 14% contraction in sales to $11.2 billion, causing China to cede its second place in the global ranks to the UK.

France and the European Union: Steady Performers

France held steady as the fourth-largest market, with a consistent share of 7%. French sales experienced a modest growth of 4% year-on-year, peaking at just under $5 billion. The wider European Union (EU), which encompasses countries such as Germany and Spain, witnessed a 5% year-on-year increase, bringing the total estimated sales to $8.8 billion.

New York: The Global Art Hub

However, the hub of global art trade firmly remained in the United States, specifically New York. Art and antiques imports to the US skyrocketed by 23% in 2022, totaling over $10.3 billion.

Conclusion

The variegated performance of the global art market in 2022 underscores its resilience and adaptability in the face of challenges. It also raises critical questions about inequality within the industry and the long-term impact of digital platforms on traditional art sales. As we look ahead, the market's future promises to be as dynamic and fascinating as its past.

Sources

Art Basel & UBS (2023), THE ART MARKET 2023 A report by Art Basel & UBS. https://theartmarket.artbasel.com/download/The-Art-Basel-and-UBS-Art-Market-Report-2023.pdf


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