Shifting patterns: The global art market


The global art market was worth an estimated $67.8 billion in 2022, after a 3% year-on-year increase, according to Art Basel and UBS’s The Art Market 2023. Art-based NFTs — nonfungible tokens the report describes as blockchain-based, unique digital identifiers that point to digital files such as images, video, or music — accounted for $1.5 billion in sales last year. Two years after art-based NFTs became available, buyers moved from the primary to the secondary market. Reselling became the main activity, making up 80% of the market’s value and 61% of transactions in 2022.

A shift to online channels — and the rise of NFT platforms — allows artists to sell directly to buyers rather than through galleries and auction houses.

Perhaps surprisingly, given the shift to direct sales, 16% of dealers rated expanding their physical premises as the top priority when looking five years ahead.

Major auction houses Christie’s, Sotheby’s, and Phillips have opened or are planning new headquarters in Hong Kong in 2023 and 2024. Also, Sotheby’s has opened a new Shanghai base for its China business, which the Art Basel and UBS report indicated.

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