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Sales in the Global Art Market 2009–2019.

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Total global sales were down 5% to $64.1bn (£49.6bn) in 2019 with the US, again in top place, enjoying a 44% share of global sales by value at $28.3bn.

With a 20% share of the market at $12.7bn (down 9%), the UK continues to lead China which stays in third place with an 18% share (sales of $11.7bn, down 10%). The UK had a 21% market share in 2018.

Compiled by founder of Arts Economics Dr Clare McAndrew, the report uses 2019 data from auction houses, dealers, collectors, fairs and experts.

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The Art Basel and UBS global art market report 2020 was compiled by founder of Arts Economics Dr Clare McAndrew.

Online sales were estimated at $5.9bn, maintaining a market share of global sales by value of around 9% (8.9% in 2018 and 9.2% in 2019). Online sales dipped 2% year-on-year in 2019 but are still at their second highest ever level. Auction houses make up the majority of online sales with dealers reporting digital transactions made up 5% of their total in 2019.

The report stated the “turmoil with the rollout of Brexit” led to the year-on-year fall in total sales in the UK. The four large London auction houses (Christie’s, Sotheby’s, Bonhams and Phillips) typically account for around 70-75% of UK totals. The report found auction sales in the UK declined by 20% to $4.3bn, roughly inline with the change in total volumes worldwide (excluding private sales) which were down 17% year-on-year to $24.2bn.

The report found the main reason was the reduction in the volume of the highest priced lots – consignors were holding back from selling high value items. There was 35% fewer lots sold in the $10m-plus bracket in 2019.

Post-War and Contemporary art remained the largest sector with a share of 53% of global fine art auction sales by value and sales reached $6.1bn (but down 10% year-on-year). Auction sales of all Old Masters reached $843m in 2019, also falling 10%.

Private sales by auction houses increased, including more than $1.8bn of sales at Christie’s and Sotheby’s. McAndrew added: “The decline [in auction sales] and shift from public to private sales reflected to a large extent the uncertainty in many of the major art markets’ economies, with vendors enticed out of the public arena and into the relative security of private sales.”


The UK maintained its position as the second largest art market last year, according to the latest Art Basel and UBS global art market report. Image copyright: Arts Economics (2020).

The art market in numbers

$64.1bn in sales in the global art market (down 5% year-on-year)

$12.7bn in UK sales (down 9%),

20% the UK’s market share (second place, down from 21% market share)

42% of the global sales are in the auction sector

58% of global sales are in the dealer sector


$24.2bn in global auction sales down 17% year-on-year

$4.3bn in UK auction sales down by 20%


$36.8bn of sales in 2019, up 2%

9% decline in sales for dealers with turnover between $500,000 and $1 million

17% rise in sales for dealers with turnover between $250,000 to $500,000


$5.9bn online sales (down 2%)

Data from: The Art Market 2020 An Art Basel & UBS Report Prepared by Dr Clare McAndrew Founder of Arts Economics