As Armory Week continues apace in New York, Art Basel and the Swiss bank UBS have released their annual report on the global art market. Authored by economist Clare McAndrew, the Art Basel and UBS Global Art Market Report offers a generally positive view of the market for the second year in a row.
According to the findings, the global art market has grown over the past year, with worldwide sales for 2018 reaching $67.4 billion, compared to $63.7 billion in 2017. But that did not alleviate anxiety about the industry. “The mood of the market in 2018 was generally less optimistic,” McAndrew writes, “as many wider economic and political issues continued to weigh heavily on the sentiment of investors and consumers around the world.”
Among the report’s findings:
— Around $29.9 billion worth of art was sold in America, making 2018 the most successful year for U.S. vendors on record. But the report notes that a fraught domestic political situation has led some to consider 2019 “a poor time to sell.”
— Art fairs were responsible for $18.5 billion in sales last year—an uptick of 6 percent over the year prior. But the report notes volatility surrounding fairs, with dealers spending more to participate last year than they had before and a high rate of turnover at such events.
— The U.S. was the top art market of 2018, followed by the United Kingdom and China. Together, the three markets accounted for 84 percent of all sales.
— Online sales were up 11 percent in 2018, with $6 billion worth of art bought via digital sources. Some 93 percent of the high-net-worth collectors surveyed said they purchased art online.
McAndrew’s report can be read in full through Art Basel.