A new report by UBS and Art Basel, surveying some 2,700 art collectors and high-net-worth individuals (each with at least $5 million in assets), found that demand to add works to their collections and to view art across international forums is strong despite post-pandemic concerns.
The report, titled “A Survey of Global Collecting in 2022,” claims that collectors are facilitating an increase in art being traded across continental borders following a pandemic slump, with imports and exports of art increasing by 41 percent and 38 percent between 2020 and 2021, respectively.
Spending on art among collectors has also increased across global market hubs, the report states.
In the first half of 2022, the median spending of high-net-worth collectors (based in the U.S., Europe, and Asia) surveyed was $180,000, up from $164,000 and $100,000 as previously reported by UBS and Art Basel in 2021 and 2020, respectively. And collectors are spending at a higher price points: 23 percent of collectors reported regularly buying works over $1 million—nearly double the previous year’s figure of 12 percent.
Art economist Clare McAndrew, the report’s author, said the findings reflect “ an unwavering engagement” of high-net-worth collectors in the commercial art world that has “buoyed” a post-pandemic recovery across the market.
The report also suggests that, when it comes to buying art, gender matters. Of the survey participants, 57 percent said they consider an artist’s gender when deciding whether to purchase work—with 70 percent saying they expect to acquire art by women in the next year. (The matter of gender, as it relates to purchasing decisions, was not addressed in last year’s report.)
While the specter of an economic recession, rapid inflation, and armed conflicts abroad may be impacting other financial habits, those concerns are not affecting collectors’ spending on art, the report found. Active buying has led to art fairs bouncing back, with 74 percent of the collectors surveyed purchasing work at an art fair in 2022, up from the 54 percent reported in 2021. (Those figures include both in-person and OVR purchases.) Around half of collectors reported regularly buying work without seeing it in person.
While concerns around climate change within various industries looms as a key issue, the report found contradictions on the topic of sustainability for art-related travel and the impact of collectors’ desire to engage with arts programming in person. About 77 percent of collectors reported considering sustainability related options, like increased premiums, for art purchases in 2022. This figure was up from 62 percent in 2019.