By now, everyone in the art world is aware that December’s formerly-upcoming Art Basel Miami Beach fair has been cancelled, and that several other iterations of Art Basel around the world have been recently called off. With so much upheaval in the air it makes sense that the newly-released study by UBS and Art Basel authored by cultural economist Dr. Clare McAndrew paints picture of downward trends for art gallery sales. The mid-year study on how COVID-19 has affected the gallery sector revealed that one third of all galleries have downsized, but tht online sales have accelerated across the board and buyers of art remain actively interested in expanding their collections.
The study also found that overall art sales have significantly contracted by an average of 36 percent in the first half of the year, due to the fact that 93 percent of all galleries had closed their premises between January and July 1 of 2020. Given that a lot of the process of buying art has to do with wandering into physical spaces and assessing what’s for sale, this makes a lot of sense.
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However, the authors of the report also don’t want art market insiders to fall into despair. “Our survey of high net worth collectors illustrates a continued drive to support the market, as it migrates ever faster to online platforms,” Christl Novakovic, the CEO of UBS Europe SE and Head Wealth Management Europe, said in a statement. “Digital platforms can increase price transparency and broaden the base of new buyers at different price levels. Strengthening this digital community globally may be essential for the health of the market in the future.”
The study goes on to say that 60 percent of young millennial collectors are optimistic about how the art market will bounce back and continue to perform in the next six to 12 months, whereas only 24 percent of boomers are recorded as feeling the same way. Truly, as with many other industries, the young people are revealing themselves to be the future.