The annual Global Art Basel/UBS art market report included a survey of mid-tier auction houses with 91% of respondents believing sales will increase or remain stable over the next five years. Image courtesy of W&H Peacock.

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Sales rose 6% to $67.4bn last year though this represented a slowdown on the 12% growth of the previous year. Challenges for the sector highlighted in the report included economic uncertainty and less rapid growth in China and Asia.

But the art and antiques market has plenty of reasons to be optimistic.

Here ATG selects five reasons to be cheerful from the report.

1: Online sales are still growing

Global online sales in the art and antiques market grew 11% to $6bn in 2018, and 93% of the millennial High Net Worth Individual collectors surveyed said they had bought from an online platform.


2: The art and antiques market benefits the wider economy

It is estimated that, in 2018, there were roughly 310,700 businesses operating in the global art and antiques market. The report found that around $20.2bn was spent on services by the global art and antiques market and 375,030 further jobs were supported by the sector.


3: Mid-tier auction houses optimistic on sales growth

A survey of mid-tier auction houses reveals 91% of respondents believe sales will increase or remain stable over the next five years. Most of the mid-tier auction houses surveyed were optimistic that their online sales would increase: 85% thought they would increase over the next five years (versus only 62% in 2017), and 20% of those thought they would increase significantly.


4: Women employees are well represented across the art and antiques market

Although women were estimated to account for 35-40% of world wealth in 2018 despite being 50% of the population, the gender breakdown of employment across the art and antiques market showed women make up more than half of staff in every area of the art and antiques trade. Of course, this does not reveal pay or level, but in the top-tier auction houses 65% of staff are female, in secondtier businesses 52% are female and 61% of those working in the dealer sector are women.


5: Rich millennials like buying antiques

From a survey of 600 High Net Worth Individuals, the millennial generation was considerably more active as art buyers than other generations. It found 69% had purchased fine art and 77% purchased decorative art in the period from 2016-18. Even in the antiques sector, which may have traditionally catered to older tastes, millennial purchasing at 54% was more than double the share of older segments such as baby boomers (23%). (The people surveyed came from five countries and had investable assets in excess of $1m)


All figures are from the Art Basel and UBS global art market report 2019 compiled by founder of Arts Economics Dr Clare McAndrew using 2018 data from auction houses, dealers, collectors, fairs and experts.