Here’s What You Need To Know From The Art Market 2022 Report

CoBo Social Design and Architecture

Key insights from The Art Market 2022 report by Art Basel and UBS indicate quite the stellar year for the art market—and no end to the attraction towards NFTs. Read on for more highlights.

TEXT: Denise Tsui
IMAGES: By CoBo Social


It’s that time of the year again. The annual Art Basel and UBS Global Art Market Report was published today, and with it came some not-so-surprising but still flabbergasting figures. Encompassing the commercial sector—from art fairs, to dealers, auction houses, and now NFTs—The Art Market 2022 is a mammoth read. Here are some of the key highlights worth your attention.



What Pandemic?

The year 2021 might have been the second year of COVID-19, with both the mutant strains Delta and Omicron wreaking havoc globally, but it seems the art world was not about to have a consecutive poor year following the biggest drop in a decade in 2020.

The Art Market 2022 reports that the global art market saw pandemic recovery with robust sales of art and antiques by dealers and auction houses, reaching an estimated US$65.1 billion, up 29% from 2020 (US$50.1 billion), and exceeding pre-pandemic 2019 values.

Meanwhile, the US maintained its leading position, up 1% from 2021, accounting for 43% of global art market share by value. Greater China, who tied with the UK in 2021, took second place maintaining its 20% share, while the UK declined to 17%.

On actual market sales, the US market saw a 33% increase year-on-year, achieving just over US$28.0 billion. Greater China saw even more significant year-on-year growth, up 35% at US$13.4 billion. The UK, despite its global art market share decline, still experienced a 14% growth in sales year-on-year, reaching US$11.3 billion.

The survey on the outlook for 2022 showed overall optimism with 62% of dealers predicting an upward turn this year, while 81% of second-tier auction houses believe sales will improve. On the contrary, however, among the high net-worth collectors (HNW) surveyed, just 53% plan to buy art in 2022, down 4% from 2021. Of those planning to buy, 88% showed interest in buying NFT-based artworks in the future—an indication that whether we like it or not the trend for NFTs is here to stay with no signs of abating.



Cashing In On NFTs

Beyond the art market, the value of sales for art-related NFTs taking place on NFT platforms expanded more than hundred-fold in 2021 year-on-year reaching US$2.6 billion, while collectibles saw even more immense growth, reaching US$8.6 billion.

Not only did the sales of NFTs in the traditional art market’s auction sector prove hugely successful at attracting new buyers, 74% of HNW collectors surveyed had acquired art-based NFTs, with a median expenditure of US$9,000.

Within the major auction houses, NFT sales at Christie’s came to a total of US$150 million, including Beeple’s Everydays: The First 5000 Days (2021) which accounted for US$69.3 million. At Sotheby’s, NFT sales reached a total of US$80 million.



Bidding Game Strong

Public auction sales of fine and decorative arts and antiques rose by 47% compared to 2020, reaching an estimated US$26.3 billion. To no surprise, the US, China and the UK retained its dominance of global share by value, at 78% combined. Of these, China is in the lead at 33%, with the US closely behind at 32%. The UK, in third position, makes up 17% while France saw a positive growth from 7% in 2020 to taking 9% of global share in 2021.

Private sales in the auction sector also saw a steady uptick of 32%, reaching US$4.1 billion, of which Sotheby’s and Christie’s auction houses make up US$3.0 billion alone.

Continuing per previous trends, Post-War and Contemporary art continues to be the largest sector, making up 55% of the total share of global fine art auctions. Value reached US$6.7 billion, up 42% year-on-year. Works sold that were created in the last 20 years came to US$2.5 billion, more than doubling its value from 2020.

That’s it for now but watch this space as we dive deeper into the report for the April column of Market Chats—but first allow me some time to brood, moan, and digest these big figures.



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