Global Art Market Grows for the First Time in Two Years, According to Art Basel Report

An Urs Fischer candle of artist Adam McEwen at the booth of London’s Sadie Coles HQ, at Art Basel Miami Beach, on December 6, 2017.


Art Basel released its second annual market report today. Authored by economist Clare McAndrew, who left TEFAF for Art Basel in 2016, the report says that, after two years of decline, the global art market grew about 12 percent in 2017, with about $63.7 billion in sales.

In the report, McAndrew writes, “In 2017, despite remaining political volatility in many regions, robust growth in global wealth, particularly at the high end, improved economic performance, accelerating financial market returns, stronger consumer confidence and increased supply led to a much more favorable environment for sales.”

Below are some other facts to be gleaned from the report.

  • The United States, China, and the United Kingdom are still the top three areas for art dealings—they represent about 83 percent of the world’s market. Of the total global art sales made in 2017, the U.S. is responsible for about 42 percent of them.
  • Sales in Asia constituted 23 percent of all global art dealings in 2017, and China, whose market has been growing for years, continues to remain on top.
  • There were more gallery closures than openings in 2017. “One of the biggest concerns dealers expressed in 2017, regardless of their turnover levels, was the changing infrastructure of the market, with the greatest performance year-to-year and longevity over time found at the top end of the market,” McAndrew writes in the report, noting that their anxiety was partly spurred on by the shuttering of “more than 20 notable galleries in some of the mature markets.”
  • With $5.4 billion in sales last year, the online market did better than ever before.
  • Art fairs brought in an estimated $15.5 billion in sales last year—a 17 percent improvement over 2016’s statistic. The success has come at a cost, however: dealers payed more to participate in fairs than in the year prior.
  • Some 3 million people were employed by the art world last year.

The full report can be downloaded on Art Basel’s site.

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