State of the Global Art Market in 2023

According to the latest art market report released by Art Basel and UBS, China’s zero-tolerance Covid policies pushed the UK back to the #2 spot behind the US, with sales growing 3% in 2022. Here are some key takeaways:

“Sales in 2022 were greater than before the pandemic and represent the second-highest point achieved in the market to date, with values coming in just below the peak of 2014.”

“The US regained its leading position in 2022, with 37% of sales. THe majority of the highest-global art market share by value 2022 circle graphpriced works of art were sold in New York during the year, including 41 of the top 50 fine art lots. The US held its top spot in the global ranks, with its share of sales increasing by 2% year-on-year to 45%. China’s share decreased (by 3%) to 17%, pushing it back into third position. Back in second place with and 18% share of sales (up 1% from the previous year), the UK maintained its momentum, with a 5% rise in value.”

“Auction sales fell last year, dropping 2% to $30.6bn across both public and private sales (though this was up 11% on 2019’s pre-pandemic figure). This was largely due to a poor-performing Chinese auction market, which saw cancellations in Shanghai in spring and further lockdowns stalling important autumn sales on the mainland, contributing to a 22% drop in 2022. Overall, global auction sales accounted for 45% of the market in 2022, down 2%.”

auction hammer laying across a laptop keyboard“While online sales at Christie’s, Sotheby’s, and Phillips accounted for 7% of total public auction sales – down by 4% year-on-year – the importance of digital technology in supporting sales has continued to expand. Sotheby’s reports that 91% of bids placed at their auctions in 2022 were online (from just 44% in 2017 and only 18% in 2012). Similarly, at Christie’s, 75% of bids were online, compared with 45% in 2018.”

“One of the biggest trends over the past couple of years has been the mushrooming market for ultra-contemporary, or “red-chip”, artists. In large part driven by a frenzied auction market, this trend now appears to be in reverse. In 2021, contemporary art (created by artists born after 1945) and works made in the past 20 years both doubled in value at auction, largely thanks to strong sales of ultra-contemporary artists. However, in 2022, the older segment of post-war art was more successful, with values up by 3%, versus declines of 26% for contemporary art and 17% for works created in the past 20 years.”