Is the contemporary art sector still thriving and following the same trends observed in the pre Covid era? Artalistic presents a survey of the 2022 art market. The last 12 months led us to believe that the global art market is on the upswing, inline for an exceptionally strong year - notably thanks to high-net-worth collectors focusing on spending! However, this seemingly idyllic future should be analyzed in more depth.
2022 Art Market: A record-breaking year
Despite a turbulent year full of elements that negatively impacted the economy, including the ongoing war in Ukraine, the energy crisis and a global economic recession, the 2022 art market had an exceptionally strong year.
Spring prediction is confirmed
Art sales during the Covid period were not very significant. However, as we exit this era, we are seeing record breaking sales, an increase in auctions and collectors are willing to visit global art fairs and exhibitions despite the continuing pandemic - as was the case for the premiere of Paris+ by Art Basel.
Data from The Art Market's annual report published by Art Basel & UBS last spring predicted that the 2022 art market had returned to, and even exceeded, the level observed before the Coronavirus pandemic. The information gathered mentioned an impressive turnover of 65.1 billion dollars.
The remainder of the year continued this strong upward trend, notably thanks to several sales of work by great masters that brought together recognized collectors and philanthropists. For example, a museum’s worth of masterworks from the co-founder of Microsoft Paul Allen’s personal collection was sold at auction after his recent death. This was the largest sale in auction history topping 1.5 billion dollars.
Art market 2022: more than 50 pieces sold for over $30 million!
More than 50 works of art were sold for over 30 million dollars, breaking the previous record, which was 36 pieces in 2015. Of the 52 works sold, 24 of them exceeded $50 million, cracking the record of 15 pieces sold in this price bracket in 2014. Six of these pieces were sold for over $100 million.
Private collections are on the rise
The frantic race for masterpieces that is currently underway is evidenced by transactions that have never, or rarely, been seen before. For example, Andy Warhol's Shot Sage Blue Marilyn from the Ammann Collection sold at Christie's for $195 million, making it the most expensive 20th century painting sold at auction.
Sotheby's also boasted a colossal sale of René Magritte's Empire of Light, which sold for $79.8 million at an auction in London that sold nearly $300 million worth of art in 24 hours, a significant milestone in the 2022 art market!
What are the forecasts for the year to come?
If the picture painted here appears idyllic, it is nevertheless advisable to temper this vision, or at least to explore it in more depth. To begin with, we must take the predominant influence the sector's heavyweights have on the market into account.
A more detailed inspection of the 2022 art market
As previously explained, the 2022 art market was boosted by colossal sales. The major auction houses shared the biggest slice of the cake and smaller companies had to make do with a few crumbs. Initial estimates suggest that nearly 95% of Impressionist, Modern and Contemporary art sales were completed by Christie's and Sotheby's, 80% of these sales took place in New York. The United States kept its role as a major player in the art market, ahead of London, Hong Kong and Paris.
The repercussions of over concentration
Logically, the situation is less glorious for smaller, lesser-known auction houses. The astronomical figures observed in the 2022 art market could mask an economic situation that is much more nuanced than it appears. Especially for the majority of individuals who do not have the strategic and financial clout of the sector's leaders.
What about the dematerialization of the market?
The future of NFTs and digital art
NFTs are too new in the grand scheme of things to draw up a comprehensive assessment of digital art. Many view the initial trends in digital art to be disappointing, some specialists hesitate to talk about the recent collapse of NFTs. If this trend continues, it would probably be largely due to the crash observed in the cryptocurrency and blockchain sphere during the summer of 2022.
Are online art sales still on the rise?
On the other hand, the digital art market could once again come out on top, as the latest 2021 Hiscox report indicated. It seems that online spending is here to stay! More wealthy collectors showed a willingness to buy online. Fewer collectors said they preferred to transact in person at a gallery than in 2020 (42%, down from 57%), while even more said they preferred buying online than in 2020 (37%, up from 29%).