If you’ve ever wondered how much money is spent on art, antiques and collectables around the world each year, we have just been told: $50 billion. That may sound a lot, but to put that in perspective, the annual spend of the entire global art market is less than the market capitalisation value of all top 16 companies in the FTSE 100.
The value of the annual global art market has risen to almost $68 billion before, but as with nearly all other forms of commerce, the pandemic has taken its toll. Nonetheless, as this column has noted in recent months, art and antiques auctions have entered a booming new era thanks to the rapid acceleration of adoption of online sales.
The $50 billion figure was announced in mid-March by Arts Economics, the research company behind the eagerly anticipated Art Basel report, the Rolls Royce annual assessment of the art market and what is happening to it.
One of the report’s headline claims that online-only sales at auction doubled in the past year. Another was that although UK sales as a whole fell by 22% to $9.9 billion, it still held on to its top-three spot after the US and China as the world’s most important market for art and antiques.
It’s reassuring to know that even in troubled times, the knowledge, skill and expertise of British art market professionals still shines through.