Summary of the Art Basel and UBS 2023 global art collectors survey

The Art Basel and UBS Global Art Collectors Survey 2023 has been published, a summary of which can be found below and on the website of the full report.

  • The survey covered 2,828 wealthy (high net worth person – discretionary funds over $1 million) collectors (invested at least $10,000 per year in art over the last 3 years) from 11 different markets.
  • The global art market was estimated to be worth $67.8 billion in 2022 (3% annual growth). Of this, cross-border art trade (imports) was at an all-time high of $30.7 billion.
  • Despite challenging times in the world, the art market remains robust. Similarly, 77% of collectors are confident that the outlook for the next six months is positive (74% of whom also felt optimistic about the outlook for the stock markets). 54% plan to buy and 26% plan to sell art from their collection in the coming year.
  • Physical contact with art has become even more important, with 86% of collectors buying from art dealers and 84% of transactions taking place in real gallery spaces. 58% of survey respondents bought art at an art fair. 38% also bought art directly from the artist’s studio and 28% commissioned work directly from the artist.
  • The average collector has bought from 15 different galleries/art dealers in the last 4 years.
  • The money spent was split between different sales channels: 33% art dealers (galleries, dealers), 25% auction houses, 14% art fairs, 9% direct artists, 5% NFT platforms, 4% other third-party online platforms, 4% door-to-door, 4% instagram, 2% art advisors.
  • Collectors’ main motivation for buying art is personal enjoyment and self-identification. Alongside these is a strong economic view – art as an asset class.
  • As a previous survey has shown, collectors prefer to buy directly from galleries in turbulent times, and less from auctions – the auction results for the first half of 2023 are more modest than last year.
  • In 2022, a wealthy collector spent an average of $65,000 a year on art. 2023 promises higher results. The average collector bought 6 works of art a year.
  • As wealth grows, the share of art in the portfolio increases (faster). New collectors are also coming in at a strong rate – 10% of those who spent more than $1 million on art in the past year are so-called new collectors. 43% of survey respondents have been collecting for more than 10 years and 8% for more than 20 years.
  • Paintings continue to account for the largest share of the market (58%), with works on paper in second place (13%).
  • The average collection includes 52% of works by living artists and 48% by artists who have passed away.
  • The collector attends an average of 32 art-related events/exhibitions per year. Including 6 museum visits, 5 private collections and 5 gallery exhibitions, 4 art fairs, 4 studio visits and 4 auctions.
  • The collector’s self-definition as a buyer was split:
    • 44% consider themselves to be “researchers”, having done their homework on the artist’s career and sales to date before buying.
    • 24% consider themselves to be “connoisseurs”, committed to picking the best of the best.
    • 18% buy on impulse, making a snap decision based on a specific work of art.
    • 10% describe themselves as “investors” who seek out works and authors whose monetary value grows faster.
    • 4% describe themselves as “patrons” who buy primarily to support artists and the arts community.
  • The use of leverage (credit) to buy art was also explored for the first time. Even among the very wealthy, 43% have used credit to buy art. This is most common among those who identify themselves as art investors – 54% use credit. In other words, the increase in the value of art is faster than the interest on a loan in any case.

Image: Painting by Kristi Kongi