America Is Dominating The Global Fine Art Market, According To New Report

U.S. transactions accounted for a whopping 42 percent of global art sales, while China came in second with a 19-percent share.

Jean­-Michel Basquiat, El Gran Espectaculo, 1983 (Christie’s)

A new report commissioned by Art Basel provides some fascinating insights into the state of the lucrative global fine art market.

Art Market Report 2024 was sponsored by UBS Financial Services and authored by Dr. Clare McAndrew, founder of the Arts Economics market research firm and a cultural economist who specializes in the arts, antiques and collectibles markets.

Among the many metrics featured in the report concerns America’s dominance in the art dealing world. U.S. transactions accounted for a whopping 42 percent of all art sales by value in 2023, and while that’s down 3 percent year-on-year, the U.S. maintained its authoritative position atop the global art market. China became the second largest in the global art market with a 19-percent share, while the U.K. fell to third place with a 17-percent share.

The U.S. also remains the epicenter of expensive art sales. Eight of the top 10 highest-priced lots were all sold in New York in 2023, and all but one of the year’s $50 million-plus sales happened on U.S. soil.

Among them was was the sale of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s El Gran Espectaculo (pictured above), which fetched $67 million at a Christie’s auction. In total, 34 of the top 50 fine art auction lots were sold in the U.S.

Other notable trends concern online art sales, as Hypebeast notes. Despite an overall downturn of 4 percent of total art sales in 2023, online art sales experienced a notable 7-percent increase, reaching $11.8 billion, underscoring the growing significance of digital platforms in art transactions.

However, unlike the offline sales that comprise most of $1 million-plus segment, 58 percent of the online-only fine art auction market dealt in works valued at less than $50,000 and 85 percent were valued at less than $250,000.

NFT sales, which almost exclusively occur online, have taken a massive hit over the past few years, from a peak of $2.9 billion total NFT sales in 2021 to $1.2 billion in 2023.

While no one can tell what the future holds for certain, 36 percent of dealers surveyed for McAndrew’s report expect an improvement in sales in 2024, down from 45 percent who responded in 2022.

About half—48 percent—expected sales to be about the same, and 16 percent predicted a decline. While the smallest dealers were the most optimistic about sales in 2022, at the end of 2023, the largest dealers were the most hopeful for a better year, with just over half (54 percent) expecting an increase.

Head to Art Market and Art Basel’s website to view the full report.