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Art Markets: How Have They Evolved in the Last Ten Years?

Updated on February 27, 2018


When the media occasionally publishes news about the sale of a painting or masterpiece worth tens of millions of dollars, some believe it is an exceptional event, one with no roots and no consequences. But the truth is that such sporadic news is only the small floating part of a huge iceberg, founded long ago and calculated in the world economy.


What is the size of the world's art market? How does it work? Who are the main players? And how has it evolved over the last few years?

For example, if you look at the list of the 20 most expensive oil paintings sold at auctions, the "cheapest" is a painting by Mark Rothko of America, sold for $ 75.1 million, and paid for a $ 250 million French painting of Paul Cezanne. In other words, we are faced with works of art equal in value to the capital required for the establishment of medium and large factories. It is enough to confuse thinking. How do we know that these high-priced works constitute only a very small percentage of a market based on the exchange of hundreds of thousands of works of art, although most of these works are less or less inferior to this list.

An ancient market and not a modern phenomenon
Exceeding the commercial value of works of art as an ornamental work with human and moral content is not a recent phenomenon.

In 1914, the French newspaper Le Journal wrote: "It is a great deal of what we have heard that the paintings of Cezanne, Van Gogh and Gauguin are sold for more than 20,000 francs per plate, and that their prices continue to rise. The hobbyists are buying them, not because they find them beautiful. Iron cabinets and lock them with keys - but because they trust the tricks of traders to raise prices Traders and amateurs are only doing business and deals on the stock exchange.

Earlier, writer Emil Zola wrote in 1880: "The painting has become a suspicious field, and gold mines on the hill of Montmartre are invested by bankers."

Indeed, art works have often enjoyed a higher demand for them, and more often than not.

The size of the art market today

In a comprehensive scientific study by Arts Economics entitled "Art Market 2017", where the value of sales of works of art, monuments and rare handicrafts amounted to 56.6 billion dollars in 2016. However, the study added that this figure is less 11% higher than in 2015 and 17% higher than in 2014 when the market reached $ 68.2 billion.


In a quick review of the art market over the past few years, the same study shows that the strength of both supply and demand since the beginning of the new millennium led to the growth of the art market in the early years, reaching a peak of $ 66 billion in 2007. But the market fell sharply Due to the financial crisis that hit the world in 2008, falling by 40% between 2007 and 2009. Despite the continuing tails of this crisis, the US and Chinese markets have returned to their first activity. The contribution of the Chinese art market, in particular, has played a larger role in restoring the value of trade in 2011. But this movement stopped growing in 2012, slowing the growth of the global market.
Between 2012 and 2014, the US market replaced the Chinese market with the support of international art sales, especially the sales of modern and contemporary art, and reached a new peak in 2014.

Art and sales vendors
During the last year 2016, the number of sellers of art and crafts of individuals and institutions 310,450 sellers. However, in this vast and diverse world market, there are about 5000 major institutions in this market, accounting for 80% of the world's total traffic, in terms of value.

While the total value of global sales in auctions declined in 2016, the movement of other sellers remained largely constant. Thus, the value of sellers' sales, excluding auctions, increased to 57% of the total. In the last decade, it is possible to say that the two sides divided the world market by 50 - 50%. Rates vary, of course, between countries and different technical sectors. In some developing countries, the share of sellers (other than auctions) is only 10%, while in some developed markets it has reached 60%.

According to the Arts Economics study of the market in 2016, which covered more than 6,500 art dealers in the United States, Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa and Latin America, the turnover of art and artifacts last year was about $ 875,000. Although total vendor sales increased by 3% in 2016, not all of them were. With 40% indicating that 2016 was positive in sales, while 60% said it was a negative year. The study included questioning a wide range of art vendors, including contemporary art, modern, impressionist, adult classics, antique antiques, art and design.

The Art Market: Part 1 - Auctions

The Art Market: Part 2 - Galleries

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