2024 Global Art Market Report: Sales Shrink, Chinese Art Market Growing Up Alone

Jonathan Feel
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In the 2024 Global Art Market Report from Art Basel and UBS, it was found that the global art market shrank in 2023 due to factors such as high interest rates, inflation, and war. Only the Chinese art market grew. Global art sales last year recorded USD 65 billion, down 4% from the previous year. It is the first time in three years that art sales have decreased, but this figure is still up from $64.4 billion in 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Value of Sales in the Global Art Market. Image ⓒ ARTS ECONOMICS

The 2024 Global Art Market Report cited rising interest rates, inflation, war and political instability as factors for the decline in the art trade. This led to collectors choosing works more carefully. In particular, high interest rates seem to have been a burden for some wealthy people who buy art with loans.

By region, the U.S. art market recorded $27.2 billion, down 3% from the previous year. Although sales decreased, the U.S. maintained the top spot, accounting for 42% of the global art market sales. This is attributed mainly to the trend of expensive artworks being sold in New York and London.

Following this, the Chinese art market (including Hong Kong) made notable strides. The volume of transactions increased by nine percent year-on-year to $12.2 billion, surpassing the U.K. as the world’s second-largest art market (19 percent). The growth had a base effect from the aftermath of the pandemic. 

“This is due to the resumption of economic activities as strict COVID-19-related lockdowns eased,” the report said. “The Chinese art market saw a revival in the first half of last year, and the size of the market expanded as major exhibitions such as Art Basel Hong Kong were re-opened for the first time since the pandemic.” However, unlike the active first half of the year, demand slightly declined in the second half due to slowing growth of the Chinese economy and sluggish real estate. It is unclear whether the Chinese art market will continue to grow.

The U.K., which came in second to the U.S. in 2022, fell to third place (17 percent) in 2023, and to $8.9 billion, down eight percent from the previous year. France came in fourth with a seven percent market share. The Japanese market saw a nine percent drop in sales. Art transactions in other major Asian markets, such as South Korea and Singapore, also declined.

Global Art Market Share by Value in 2023. Image ⓒ ARTS ECONOMICS
Global Art Market Share by Value in 2023. Image ⓒ ARTS ECONOMICS

The price distribution of purchases of works has changed as well. Despite the economic downturn, there was an active trade in ultra-high-priced works worth more than $10 million in 2022. In 2023, that figure dropped by 40%.

However, transactions of less than $500,000 were active in 2023, up 11%. This is due to the influx of new Millennial and Generation Z collectors, which led to the purchase of mid- to low-priced works online. In particular, online sales of works under $50,000 accounted for 18% of all transactions. This figure was twice the share of 2019. Last year, art transactions online were estimated at $11.8 billion, up 7% from the previous year, and 58% of artworks sold online were under $50,000.

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Jonathan Feel
Jonathan Feel

Jonathan Feel is a reporter and editor for Auction Daily in Korea. He has been active in various fields such as the media, social economy, village community, and fair trade coffee industry and is writing. It is recognized that art is not far from society and the times, and that art can be a tool for the sustainability of the Earth and mankind. He hopes that good works and artists in Korea will meet with readers.

김이준수는 한국 주재 옥션데일리 필진이자 편집자이다. 언론, 사회적경제, 마을공동체, 공정무역 커피업계 등 다양한 분야에서 활동했고 글을 쓰고 있다. 예술이 사회·시대와 동떨어져 있지 않으며, 예술이 지구와 인류의 지속가능성을 위한 도구가 될 수 있음을 인식하고 있다. 한국의 좋은 작품과 아티스트를 많이 소개하고 싶다.

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