Art Basel Is Piloting a New Charity-Focused Sales Platform

Art buyers who use the marketplace must pledge a minimum of 10 percent of the artwork's sale price toward one of two charitable organizations.

As it gears up for its upcoming event in Miami Beach, art fair behemoth Art Basel is urging collectors to make philanthropic donations via a new online marketplace called Access.

Art fair with paintings hanging on walls and people walking around
A view of Art Basel Miami Beach 2022. Sean Drakes/Getty Images

The platform officially launched today (Nov. 27) with artwork by Jenny Holzer, Hernan Bas, Katherine Bradford, Angel Otero, Mark Handforth and others. Galleries including Pace and art dealers such as François Ghebaly are taking part in the pilot program, which will offer work by more than a dozen exhibitors scheduled to participate in Art Basel Miami Beach 2023 next month.

Artwork on Access will be available for purchase online until Dec. 10, priced from $25,000 to $285,000. For those attending Art Basel’s Miami fair in person, artworks available on the platform will be marked with a QR code in each gallery booth.

Philanthropy comes first on the new Art Basel platform

What sets Access apart from other art marketplaces is that interested buyers must pledge a minimum of 10 percent of the sale price to either the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) or the Miami Foundation when they make a purchase request. If they select the Miami Foundation, a community-focused nonprofit, they will have the choice of funneling their gift toward the group’s Art Access Miami initiative, LGBTQ+ Equity Fund or Racial Equity Fund.

Art Basel’s new marketplace was developed in collaboration with Arcual, a technology company that builds digital and blockchain products for the art world. Founded in 2022 and backed by Art Basel’s parent company MCH Group alongside the Luma Foundation and BCG X, Arcual’s powering of Access “integrates philanthropic giving into art sales using our seamless, payment-split technology,” according to a statement from Arcual CEO Bernadine Bröcker Wieder.

Art Basel has yet to announce whether the platform will be expanded to its other fairs, which take place in Basel, Hong Kong and Paris. As part of launching Access, the fair will provide a lead donation of $12,500 each towards the two benefiting foundations. “Access by Art Basel connects our clients to an expanded global audience of art patrons via an easy digital platform that simultaneously streamlines the process for collectors to buy with immediate and significant philanthropic impact,” said Noah Horowitz, CEO of Art Basel, in a statement.

This isn’t the first time Horowitz, who took over as Art Basel’s CEO last November, has spearheaded this type of initiative. In 2022, he introduced Artist’s Choice while working as head of gallery and private dealer service at Sotheby’s. Launched alongside the auctioneer’s Contemporary Curated auction, the platform offered works for sale with 15 percent of sale prices donated to nonprofits.

But while Artist’s Choice saw its donations split equally by Sotheby’s artists and their galleries, Access instead places the philanthropic component on art collectors. “We wanted to deliver a platform that meaningfully and effectively supports the causes that matter to our galleries and their artists, while allowing them to remain the beneficiaries of 100 percent of the sale on artworks,” added Horowitz.

Art Basel Is Piloting a New Charity-Focused Sales Platform