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The Art Basel and UBS Global Art Market Report 2024

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Art Basel and UBS present The Art Market Report 2024, an annual global art market analysis. The latest report states that the art market remains resilient, despite a slowdown in sales. In 2023, the market value eased, decreasing by 4% to an estimated USD 65 billion. 

Art Basel has been going on since 1970 and is still one of the biggest contemporary-focused shows today. A Hong Kong and a Miami edition have been added to the original Basel fair, each uniquely defined by its hosting city. In January 2022 Art Basel and its parent company, the Swiss MCH Group AG announced that it has been awarded a seven-year contract to stage a new fair at the Grand Palais in Paris. The new fair is called Paris+ par Art Basel

The upcoming event is the Hong Kong edition. It will take place with 242 leading galleries from 40 countries at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (HKCEC) March 28-30, 2024, with preview days on March 26 and 27. 

As a messenger, the regular Art Market report has just been published today. The Art Market Report is a joined initiative of Art Basel and the Zurich based UBS Group AG. Art Basel has been partnering with UBS Bank for 25 years. As the global network of Art Basel expanded, UBS increased its lead partnership to include all shows and is today Global Lead Partner of Art Basel.

The eight Art Basel and UBS Global Art Market Report provides a review of the international art market, highlighting some of the most important trends and developments in 2023. Authored by Dr. Clare McAndrew, founder of Arts Economics, it is an independent and objective study, analysing sales and other activities of different segments of the market including galleries, auction houses, art fairs, and collectors. 

Art Basel organised a panel discussion for 13 March with Dr. Clare McAndrew (cultural economist, founder, Arts Economics) and Noah Horowitz (CEO of Art Basel since November 2022) moderated by Melanie Gerlis (Art Market Columnist & Contributor, Financial Times). We participated to learn more about the findings and trends. 

A few key findings of the report – press release 13 March

Global sales reached $65 billion in 2023, with a slowdown of 4% year-on-year, contributing factors were for example high interest rates, inflation, and political instability. 

The biggest markets are still the US (42%), China (became the second-largest global art market with 19%) and UK (17%), although UK remains a key hub for sales of the most expensive artworks worldwide. France retained its position as the fourth-largest art market at 7% of global sales.

Looking ahead to sales in 2024, dealers have mixed views: 36% of dealers expected an uptick in sales, while 48% expected turnover to remain stable, and 16% predicted a decline. The effects of political and economic uncertainty were ranked as the biggest challenge by most dealers, followed by a focus on maintaining relationships with existing clients – a priority echoed since 2020.

The sales at art fairs accounted for 29% of dealers total revenues, marking a 6% decline from the robust return observed in 2022 and surpassing the levels seen in 2021 (27%). Following a record-breaking year in 2022, public auction sales declined by 7% to USD 25.1 billion (private sales are at USD 3.9 billion). The online sales is down from the in 2021 of USD 13.3 billion, but it grew in 2023 increasing 7% year-on-year and reaching an estimated USD 11.8 billion. The trend still shows that mostly the lower priced pieces were sold online. 

Noah Horowitz, CEO, Art Basel, said: ‘Although down year-on-year, core collecting audiences remained actively engaged with the art market in 2023 and helped support prices on balance – albeit through a more value-driven and quality-conscious lens. The ramp-up in participation from new and often younger global buyers, in tandem with gains in the online sector, underscores some critical green shoots in the market with substantial future potential. Overall, the reversal of trend at the high end of the market after years of compounded acceleration was one of the defining features of the art business last year, as it also creates an opening in the market for exciting new trends and narratives to emerge.’

Outlook of luxury spending 

As the report states – ‘art and luxury sectors have often proved historically to be more resilient than some other consumer goods to economic downturns and uncertainty. However, 2023 showed clearly that they are not immune to disruptive financial, social, or political changes. For HNW collectors, concerns over wealth creation, stability, and sustainability can affect their willingness to make discretionary purchases and sales, while volatile social and political issues can distract their focus from their collections.’

While the markets differ substantially, there is increasing evidence of important crossovers within art and luxury markets. The surveys of HNW (high-net-worth) collectors in 2023 showed that besides collecting art and antiques, a majority also purchased jewellery, gems, and watches, while over a third were active in other collectibles and luxury segments, including luxury wine and spirits (42%), collectible luxury handbags (40%). 

The luxury sales at top-tier auction houses like Sotheby’s and Christie’s represents $2.5 billion (from wide range of goods, including cars and luxury real estate) and $1 billion (jewellery, handbags and accessories, watches, wine and spirits), respectively. 

Paul Donovan, Chief Economist at UBS Global Wealth Management, said: ‘The art market continues to prove its resilience. Alongside the strength of financial markets, expected declines in interest rates, and weakening inflation, this offers hope for 2024. We are observing a shift in the luxury market away from goods purchases towards spending more on “having fun”- leisure travel, entertainment, and socializing. Art is so much more than possessing physical objects – and the events, experiences, and social networks associated with collecting should provide support for the sector.’

The Global Art Market Report 2024 can be downloaded here.

Source: press release. Photo credits: Art Basel. Loupiosity.com
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