Art Basel
The Art Basel and UBS Global Art Market 2018 report was authored by Dr Clare McAndrew of Arts Economics. It found the global art market grew by 12% to $63.7bn.

Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

With the overall market valued at $63.7bn (£45.6bn), China recorded 21% of total sales with the UK falling to 20% while the US retained its top position with 42%. 

The 2018 edition of The Art Basel and UBS Global Art Market Report also indicated that auction totals were boosted by a number of high profile lots including the sale of Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi for $450m (including premium) at Christie’s New York. However, despite the growth recorded this year, over a ten-year period the market has largely remained static at around $60bn.

McAndrew, founder of Arts Economics, said: "After two years of uncertainty and decline, the market turned a corner in 2017 with growth in the auction and dealer sectors, as well as at art fairs and online. However, these industry-wide gains were driven by sales at the top end of the market, and away from this premium segment, performance was not all positive, with many businesses coming under pressure.”

Art market in numbers for the year 2017:

  • 12% year-on-year growth in value of total sales
  • 8% year-on-year growth of sales volumes (number of transactions)
  • 53% of market by value – dealer sales
  • 47% of market by value – auction sales
  • $28.5bn sales at public auction
  • $33.7bn sales by dealers – up 4% year-on-year
  • $5.4bn sales online – which is 8% of the value of global sales recording a 10% year-on-year growth
  • 33% of global sales made in the European Union
  • 23% of global sales made in Asia, driven by China but also including solid sales in Japan, South Korea, India and Indonesia
  • $15.5bn art fair sales – up 17% year-on-year
  • 125% year-on-year market growth for objects sold for over $1m but negative annual growth and value decline for the market of artworks between $1000-$1m.

Despite Asia accounting for 23% of global sales and China's significant growth, the country is dogged by the issue of non-payment at auction.

The Art Basel and UBS Global Art Market is now the only comprehensive account of the entire art market – covering both the dealer and auction sector.

McAndrew, who had compiled the TEFAF Report since 2008, left the organisation in 2016 to join Art Basel. TEFAF then hired Maastricht University professor Rachel Pownall to produce its report last year.

Pownall’s report’s methodology differed from McAndrew’s, revealing contrasting results: Pownall revised the art market’s 2015 value to $44bn from McAndrew’s $63.8bn. For 2016 it estimated the total was $45bn, while McAndrew recorded it at $56.6bn.

TEFAF has now decided not to publish a market wide study this year and instead focus on smaller, more focused reports. Its next report will be produced by Anders Petterson, founder of ArtTactic.

Inevitably, no art market report is likely to be wholly accurate since the sector is still regarded as opaque and difficult to measure due to many deals taking place in private with confidential terms.