Collectors began to buy less art because of the war in Ukraine

Collectors began to buy less art because of the war in Ukraine

This year, collectors are being more cautious and taking their time to buy new works of art. This is stated in a study published by the World Fair of Contemporary Art Art Basel.

For the study, 2,828 wealthy (high-net-worth) collectors from 11 regions of the world were interviewed to find out the mood and trends of the global art market. The list of countries studied included: USA, Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Japan and Brazil.

The researchers analyzed the market for the end of 2022 and the first half of 2023. As a result, the experts created statistics of the collecting and auction segments.

In his address, the CEO of Art Basel Noah Horowitz said that the results of the research and the caution of collectors in purchases are related to a number of social and economic conditions, in particular: the war in Ukraine, as well as military tensions in the Middle East. Sales of the largest international auction houses Christie’s, Sotheby’s, Phillips and Bonhams in the first half of 2023 decreased by 16% compared to the same period last year.

Art Basel exhibition in Switzerland. Photo: Reuters

After the quarantine restrictions due to Covid-19 were lifted in most countries, the statistics of the international exchange of works of art improved. The amount of world imports of art and antiques reached a record level of 30.7 billion dollars. Total exports in the studied regions reached 33.4 billion dollars. Collectors from China also spent the most this year, because the restrictions there were stricter and longer. During the year, they spent about 241 thousand US dollars.

Buyers prefer paintings on canvas and paper, and also buy sculptures and installations. And digital art sold poorly this year – the share of NFT-objects is only 3% of total expenses. Digital art is currently at its lowest level since January 2021.

Art Basel in Miami, 2022 exhibition. Photo: Art Basel

The gender ratio among the artists whose works were bought this year was also studied. The results showed that the market is shared by 39% of women and 61% of men, and the share of works by female artists in the collections decreased by 3% compared to the previous year. However, collectors who spend more than $10 million a year tend to have a higher proportion of works by women artists in their collections and pay higher sums for their works.

The market is often blamed for the divide between male and female artists, but it’s not that simple. Now, female artists often fetch higher prices than their male counterparts, but there are far fewer of them than male artists entering the market. And to solve the problem of insufficient accessibility, we must think more deeply – about institutions, about our society“, the author of the study commented on the results Claire McAndrew.

What does the pavilion look like, where galleries from all over the world are exhibited. Photo: Art Basel

43% of collectors paid with credit, most of them bought paintings for “selfish motives” – personal satisfaction and self-identification. Even taking into account the amount spent by collectors, only 11% called themselves “investors” and actively resold their collections.

Forecasts for the year 2024 remain positive, as evidenced by the sentiment among the surveyed collectors: “Despite ongoing turmoil in the financial sector, high inflation, the continued impact of the three-year-old COVID-19 epidemic and the war in Ukraine, 77% of high-income collectors remain optimistic about the art market over the next six months, slightly more than the share of those who is optimistic about the stock market (74%)” – says the study.

What is Art Basel?

Art Basel — the leading international fair of contemporary art, which takes place annually in four cities: Basel, Miami Beach, Hong Kong and Paris.

The fair has become a real trendsetter in the world of contemporary art, it is called one of the landmark events in the cultural and economic spheres, because every year it examines and demonstrates market trends. Art Basel combines installations of various scales and exhibits the works of both world-renowned artists and young artists and performers.

This year, the main program of Art Basel hosted 284 galleries from 36 countries, which presented the works of more than 4,000 artists. This event is attended by collectors from America, Asia and Europe, curators of leading museums and foundations. Closed events are held especially for them, which can only be accessed by special invitation.

The first study of the global market of collectors as part of the collaboration between Art Basel and a Swiss bank took place back in 2017. Then the first annual report on the situation on the art market was published. Since then, the main author of the study is a cultural economist Claire McAndrew.

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