Dr Clare McAndrew

Economist Dr Clare McAndrew, founder of Arts Economics.

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The Art Basel and UBS Survey of Global Collecting in 2023 revealed more than half of those surveyed planned on buying art in the next 12 months, a similar proportion to its 2022 survey.

The international survey of high-net-worth (HNW) collectors’ spending, motivations of their activities in the market, and how they interact with artists, galleries, institutions, and their environment in the first half of 2023 is put together by economist Dr Clare McAndrew, founder of Arts Economics.

It found that 77% of collectors surveyed remained optimistic about the art market’s performance over the next six months, a slightly larger share than were optimistic about the stock market (74%).

Cautious approach

However among the 2828 collectors surveyed, the average allocation to art in their wealth portfolios fell in the first half of 2023. The average allocation to art by HNW collectors fell to 19% in 2023, from a peak of 24% in 2022. This is “potentially indicative of a more cautious approach to collecting, with a greater focus on more liquid financial assets, or less inclination to spend on discretionary purchases versus other investments than in previous years and higher opportunity costs”.

McAndrew said: “Economic and political uncertainty has been looming over the art market in 2023. Although much discussed, there has been little comprehensive research on how economic and social trends actually impact the decisions and spending plans of collectors. To delve into these questions, this survey – the largest of its kind to date – examined the attitudes, behaviours, and outlook of high-net worth collectors from different regions around the world.

“Collectors continued to strongly engage in sales and events in 2023, alongside some evidence of more risk-averse approaches and less impulse buying.”

This year the survey found of those planning to buy art, paintings remained the most popular choice for planned purchases (84%), followed by sculptures and works on paper.

Cross border trade

The report also found that, by analysing trade statistics, that there was a “vibrant exchange of art and antiques across borders in 2022 and early 2023”.

It found imports of art and antiques reached their highest-ever level of $30.7bn in 2022 and exports their second highest at $33.4bn.

While global imports across all industries were down in the first quarter of 2023, the value of inflows of art to key hubs continued to grow, including double-digit increases in Hong Kong (50%), the UK (38%), and the US (15%).

Read the UBS report here.