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TEFAF Art Market Report 2017

Antiques News & Fairs - TEFAF Art Market Report 2017

Despite global economic and political uncertainty, the art market proved to be sturdy, resilient and thriving in 2016, according to the TEFAF Art Market Report 2017.

The report, written in partnership with the Maastricht Centre for Arts and Culture, Conservation and Heritage (MACCH) at Maastricht University, was prepared by Professor Rachel A. J. Pownall, TEFAF Chair in Art Markets at the School of Business Economics at Maastricht University, and Van Gogh Chair on Art Finance and Museum Management at TIAS School for Business and Society.  Professor Pownall will present the TEFAF Art Market Report 2017 at TEFAF Maastricht, the world’s leading fine art and antiques Fair, during the TEFAF Symposium on Friday 10 March 2017.  The report adopts a focused and specific definition of art dealers and art galleries, considered to be most representative of the art and antiques market globally. 

Sales in the global art market reached $45bn in 2016, up nearly 1.7% compared to 2015. European sales exceeded $20.5bn, followed by the Americas ($14.5bn) and Asia (almost $10bn).  In specific markets, the US totalled 29.5% of all sales, followed by the UK at 24% and China at 18%.

2016 saw a drop in the value of global auction sales ($16.9bn), down 18.8% on the 2015 figure ($20.8bn), mirrored by the total volume sold at auction, which decreased by 21.5%.  In the US, the value of sales at auction dropped by 41%, with a 13% drop in the value of auction sales in Europe (from $6bn in 2015 to $5.22bn in 2016).  Asia remained stable and now has the largest share of the global auction market at 40.5%, dominated by China.  The reason for these changes was a significant move to private sales, now accounting for about 70% of all sales worldwide.  Collectors, particular those of high value works, have become more inclined to secure deals away from the auction house, for the privacy and anonymity it provides - a move recognised by the auction houses who have been facilitating a greater number of private sales.  Private sales through dealers and galleries have been strong in 2016, with retail sales values up 24%. Europe, which holds 54% of the worldwide dealer community, is 20% larger than last year.

It is noteworthy that the Internet and social media have impacted both the manner in which dealers market themselves and clients access information. This is reflected in over 75% of sales via websites for items below $5,000.

Data also indicated possible shifts in taste, with collectors spending less on works by traditional blue-chip artists such Andy Warhol, Pablo Picasso, Amedeo Modigliani, Francis Bacon and Cy Twombly, ultimately impacting the overall auction house results.

In Asia, the antique market contracted by 23.3%, whilst the market for paintings grew by 36%. Auction sales in Japan grew by 101.5% and 110% in India.

Reflecting these changes, market research has shown that 76.1% dealers believe their customer base will grow, with 67% stating that online sales platforms will be of significant importance for their profitability in the future.  Dealers also believe that fairs remain the most effective method for acquiring new and prospective customers.

TEFAF Maastricht will take place from 10-19 March 2017 at the MECC (Maastricht Exhibition and Congress Centre), Maastricht, The Netherlands.  The TEFAF Symposium takes place from 9.00am to 12.15pm in the MECC Auditorium, followed by a panel discussion on the importance of context in determining the artistic, historical and financial value of a work of art.  The panelists for 2017 are Professor Pownall, TEFAF Art Market Professor at Maastricht University; Jacob Pabst, CEO of artnet; Penelope Curtis, curator of ‘La Grande Horizontale’, TEFAF Curated 2017, and director of the Museu Calouste Gulbenkian; and Dr Xavier Bray, director of the Wallace Collection. The discussion will be moderated by Dr Thomas Marks, editor of Apollo Magazine.

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