If the US art collectors surveyed by UBS Global Wealth Management are any guide, 2019 should be another strong year for the art market.
In a report released Thursday morning, timed for the start of Art Basel Miami, UBS found that 58% of collectors surveyed planned to add to their collection in 2019, while 64% said they planned to spend at least $100,000.
The wealth manager, one of Art Basel’s main sponsors, surveyed 175 art collectors with investable assets of at least $5 million from Nov. 14-26. John Mathews, head of ultra-high net worth, Americas, at UBS, said the art fair had attracted “incredible interest” from the firm’s global collecting community amid a market strong for art this year and last year.
Global art sales in 2017 rose 12% to $63.7 billion, according to Art Basel and UBS Global Art Market Report 2018. Although the results are not known this year, sales have been strong. Fall auctions in New York alone totaled more than US$2 billion, including the sale of Edward Hopper’s Chop Suey, 1929, for nearly US$92 million, and Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) by David Hockney, 1972, for $90.3 million, both at Christie’s.
Most collectors surveyed by UBS in November said they were “very engaged” with their art collections, with 50% always looking to buy more work and 34% looking “opportunistically” to add to their collections.
Of those surveyed, 58% say their art collection is their most prized possession, while only a third say they would be willing to part with it.
Collectors can head to the Miami Beach Convention Center this weekend to explore some 260 galleries at Art Basel, but UBS has found buying art online is gaining traction. Of those surveyed this year, 58% said they had purchased artwork online but never seen it in person, up from 26% a year ago, while 60% purchased artwork online. line after seeing it. Overall, 63% of respondents participated in an online auction.
UBS also learned that collectors are increasingly comfortable with social media, with 67% using social media to follow artists. The survey also revealed that 65% have “seriously considered” buying artwork after seeing it on a social media site.
This figure “corresponds to an increased use of our online services”, explains Karl Ruppert, head of the Florida Private Wealth Management market at UBS.
These technology trends are changing the art market and are likely to attract a wider range of buyers willing to buy online at different price points, Ruppert said.
As for what they plan to buy, UBS has found that 2019 could be the year of the woman.
Women’s art is gaining more and more attention, but prices for works by female artists continue to be lower than those of their male counterparts. There’s evidence that’s starting to change slightly, with Joan Mitchell’s Blueberry, 1969, selling for $16.1 million including fees at Christie’s in May, setting a record for the abstract expressionist. Yet works by Mitchell’s peers, such as Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko, can sell for many multiples of that.
Collectors surveyed by UBS seem to see this price gap between comparable male and female artists as a buying opportunity: 70% say they plan to buy works by women in 2019.