Art Basel and UBS have just published a High Net Worth survey The Impact of Covid-19 on the Gallery Sector, a study of how the Covid pandemic has effected 795 galleries operating in the Modern and Contemporary gallery sector, representing 60 different markets across all levels of turnover, throughout the first six months of this year.
In collaboration with UBS, renowned cultural economist Dr. Clare McAndrew, Founder of Arts Economic, gathered insights from 360 High Net Worth collectors across three different markets—the U.S., the U.K., and Hong Kong SAR (China)—and revealed the majority (56%) of collectors had spent over $100,000 in the first half of 2020, including 16% spending over $1 million.
The millennial segment had the largest share of high spenders, with 14% having spent over $1 million in the six-month period versus just 5% of boomers.
Nearly all millennial collectors (99%) and most Gen X collectors (94%) reported that they were actively working with galleries during the crisis, although only a third chose to only buy works by artists they were familiar with, or had bought before—a trend which, if continued, could make it harder for younger artists and galleries to become established, and potentially impacting diversity in the market.
The 2020 survey (free to download at www.ubs.com/art) reports that while overall gallery sales dropped by a third, an average of 36%, in the first half of 2020 as 93% of them had to close their doors between January and July 1, online sales accounted for 37% of total sales, up from 10% in 2019. 74% were regular clients of the gallery (29% had never bought online before) and 26% were new clients to the gallery.85% of the high net worth collectors surveyed had visited online viewing rooms of art fairs, and 40% had purchased works through them and 92% of collectors had purchased a work of art so far in 2020.
While 70% of collectors reported they still prefer to view art for sale in person, 81% said it was important or essential to have a price posted when they were browsing works of art for sale online.
59% of HNW collectors stated the coronavirus pandemic had increased their interest in collecting: over 60% of millennial collectors are optimistic about art market performance in the next six and 12 months versus 24% of boomers.
As one of the world’s top corporate art collections, owning some 37,000 pieces of modern and contemporary art that they rotate amongst their offices and lend to museums, UBS has a team of 75 dedicated to art for clients interested in creating diversification through asset class. In May 2019, Agnès Falco, CEO UBS Monaco, told Forbes Monaco, that “over the past four years in Monaco, UBS has provided funds to the national museum to create a long-term collection.”
Art Basel and UBS will present a Live Webcast Thursday September 10 at 2 p.m. CET featuring Dr. McAndrew and a panel of experts to discuss The Impact of Covid-19 on the Gallery Sector special report and to explore the challenges and opportunities facing the art market in 2020 and beyond.