Home NewsroomArt & Design Total Global Art Sales Hit 11-Year Low

Total Global Art Sales Hit 11-Year Low

by Ferre Keira
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The Covid-19 pandemic has affected the global art industry. Global sales of art and antiques in 2020 are estimated to be $50.1 billion, the lowest since 2009. Online sales have become one of the leading sales methods, and the sales of online artworks have broken records, reaching $12.4 billion.


The pandemic has caused total art sales to hit 11-year low. (Photo via Merxwire)

Basel, Switzerland (Merxwire) – The Covid-19 pandemic has severely affected the sales of brick-and-mortar stores, but it has also prompted more and more people to use online shopping. According to “The Art Market 2021” report, global sales of art and antiques in 2020 are estimated to be $50.1 billion, a decrease of 22% from 2019. Among them, online sales reached a record-breaking $12.4 billion, a double increase over last year.

The global art market has been hit hard. The art market sales of the three major art hubs- the U.S., the U.K., and Greater China declined by 10%-24%, with the U.S. experiencing the most significant decline. The U.S. still maintained its leading position, accounting for 42% of total global sales, and the U.K. and Greater China each accounted for 20%.

There are many reasons for the decline in art market sales, and 61% of art fairs are forced to cancel is one of the essential reasons. In the past, live art fairs were an essential event for art sales, attracting many collectors to visit and purchase. The sales share of the Art Fair in 2020 is only 22% of the seller’s total sales, with an additional 9% made through art fair online viewing rooms (OVRs).

The decrease in on-site art sales has caused art dealers to focus their business models on increasing online sales. The art auction market has also joined online auctions. Interestingly, most of the artworks are sold through online auctions, but the works of more than one million U.S. dollars are still mainly sold through offline auctions.

Economist Dr. Clare McAndrew said, “It was a year of unprecedented challenges but equally novel adaptations. The art market showed not just incredible resilience but also a remarkable drive to progress under really challenging circumstances.”

“Art Basel and UBS Global Art Market Report” provides the latest art market development report every year, analyzes the changes in the gallery business, auction market, global wealth, and art collections, and provides rich reference data for dealers and art lovers.

Although the art market in 2020 will not perform as well as in previous years, the change in sales methods will bring new opportunities for art-related industries. Online exhibitions increase the time for people to participate in art activities and will enhance the art market.

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