Art Basel and UBS Collector Survey Reveals Desire to Continue Buying Art

Collectors appear poised to continue buying art despite rising inflation, economic uncertainty and fluctuating currency prices, according to a report released Thursday by Art Basel and UBS.

High net worth individuals surveyed globally in August expressed confidence in the market and said they plan to continue buying art this year, according to Clare McAndrew’s ‘A Survey of Global Collecting in 2022’ report. of Art Economics.

While the pandemic was less of an obstacle for collectors in the first half of 2022, they had to deal with a more difficult economic environment and political instability triggered by the war in Ukraine. More fragile conditions have affected even the very wealthy, as McAndrew points out, with Forbes research showing that the number of billionaires and the wealth of billionaires each fell 3% in March from a year earlier.

Despite this decline, the wealth of billionaires has still doubled over the past 10 years, according to the report.

The positive view of wealthy collectors in the survey should be good news for dealers and galleries, as well as auction houses ahead of a series of major auctions scheduled for November in New York, including the sale estimated $1 billion from the late Microsoft co-collection of founder Paul Allen at Christie’s.

It’s also good news for Art Basel, a month away from its annual fair in Miami Beach. According to the report, 74% of respondents bought at an art fair in the first half of 2021 compared to just 54% of those who bought at a fair in the first half of 2021.

The survey, conducted in conjunction with UBS, included more than 2,700 collectors with at least $1 million in personal wealth (excluding real estate and private business assets) across 11 markets, including Asia, Europe, the UK and Brazil. Most respondents (57%) have personal wealth of more than $10 million.

In the first half of 2022, the median price collectors surveyed paid for art was $180,000, compared to $164,000 during the same period in 2021. Before the pandemic, in 2019, the median price paid in the first half of the year was 100,000 US dollars.

All respondents were active collectors who had purchased at least $10,000 worth of artwork in each of the past three years and owned an average of 89 works. This criterion somewhat skewed participants towards those of Millennials and Gen Xers, who are currently more active, the report notes. Yet the respondents had been collecting for an average of 13 years.

The survey found that most of the high spending (over $1 million) was by established collectors. Wealthier collectors, however, do not just buy high-profile artists, but will collect a diverse range of works by artists at different stages of their careers, whether new to the commercial market, mid-year career or emerging (showing for less than 10 years).

The exception to this rule was mainland China, where collectors on average owned more works by mid-career artists, accounting for 32% of their collections on average. These artists are often presented by galleries in major cities across the country.

The survey also looked at collectors’ attitudes towards environmental sustainability. The question arises frequently in the art world today due to the number of fairs constantly taking place around the world (last month featured a series of fairs in London followed by others in Paris, for example ), and due to emissions related to shipment art.

The report found that 57% of respondents would pay up to 25% more to reduce the environmental impact of their purchase, up from 45% in 2019, but 77% plan to travel abroad for more fairs, d exhibitions and events next year, and only 12% said they would travel less. However, most of those planning to reduce travel cited Covid-19.

There are slightly fewer fairs to visit this year than in the past. Using data from, the report noted that there are 20% more fairs on the program this year compared to the previous year, but a net loss of 6% when looking at figures before the pandemic.

The survey also looked at the global art trade and found that cross-border sales of art and antiques are strong. Global imports grew 41% in 2021 to $26.6 billion, while exports increased 38% to $27.2 billion, with double-digit growth continuing in the first half of this year. year, according to the report. Both numbers remain below highs reached in 2019, but show a strong rebound from pandemic-related losses in 2020.

The dynamics of the art trade are very different from those of most consumer goods, as works tend to be bought and sold in specific major market centers, such as New York, London or Hong Kong, and they are purchased at these centers usually in an environment with other works of art, according to the report.

The fact that affluent individuals have gained in wealth in recent years has created new markets, “while increasing spending in traditional market centers,” the report said.

About Margaret L. Portillo

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