In 2017, a Leonardo Da Vinci painting of Jesus Christ titled Salvator Mundi or Savior of the World sold for a shattering $450 million USD, a record high sale in the history of the art world. With works valued over $1 million becoming increasingly prevalent in the market, such a sale won’t be the last. Every section of fine art (including work of living artists) is experiencing an annual growth in value.
Last year, as reported by Art Basel and UBS, the global art market amassed a total of $63.7 billion USD—surpassing the global wine industry—with $28.5 billion of that generated from public art and antique auctions; $15.5 billion from art fairs; and $5.4 billion from online sales. The market continues to see the number of sales and transactions growing about eight per cent every year but the numbers highlight a much larger conversation: fine art can be a valuable investment. Facilitated by the financial strength of the fine art market, we are seeing new and innovative ways of not just the acquisition of art but also in the ways that artwork is displayed and disseminated across the globe.
With the U.S. accounting for 42 per cent of all global sales alone, UBS reported 35 per cent of high net worth individuals in the U.S. were active in the art and collectibles market in 2017. China comes in second with 21 per cent of global sales, followed by the UK with 20 per cent of global sales. All three markets total 83 per cent of global art sales and, as of 2017, these markets alone generated $26.6 billion USD, $13.2 billion and $12.9 billion, respectively. Exhibitions are more widely shared around the world, with the highest concentration hosted in the U.S., Germany, and France.
How does a $63.7 billion USD industry thrive today? Adaptability. With over 296,000 galleries and more than 14,000 auction houses in the world as of 2017, there stands over 310,000 businesses in the global art, antiques, and collectibles market today that support an estimated 360,000 jobs. The art gallery also remains a key institution, though modern curators more and more are seeking unconventional spaces to host their exhibitions. According to Art Basel and UBS’s reporting, only 55 per cent of all exhibitions were hosted in art galleries in 2017, and this provokes the idea of a more open-minded approach to art presentation and accessibility over the traditional gallery model.
Today, art and antique dealers and galleries strive to find new buyers in a market characterized by relatively niche demand. Despite these challenges, art dealers made peak sales in 2017, generating an estimated $33.7 billion USD, in-line with the four per cent growth they see every year. Visibility within key markets remains a center point for building value for an artist’s work. Within our own Art Fund, such as Düsseldorf-based painter Erik Olson, who had exhibitions at his Los Angeles gallery Luis De Jesus and Calgary’s Viviane Art are promising signals for the artist’s projected artwork value.
Online sales are significantly experiencing major growth, with many long-established auction houses and dealers targeting online expansion over the next five years. Major online players like Artsy have already bridged the gap between old gallery models of scarcity, and presented new, more transparent ways of bringing visibility and sales to brick-and-mortar galleries. The web has been identified as a key platform for art dealers, who saw 45 per cent of 2017 online sales involving buyers who were new to the industry. It’s an exciting time to see how the modern art world will evolve in both exhibition style and transaction space, and the new type of consumer it brings with it.
All image courtesy of Erik Olson.Tags: art basel ubs, art fund canada, art market canada, canadian art, Erik Olson
April 3, 2018