Three countries and two auction houses dominate the global art marketIn 2021, the United States, China, and the United Kingdom were the leading countries in the global art market, cumulatively holding 80 percent of total sales value. That year, while the U.S. generated the highest overall value of transactions, China retained the highest share of fine art auction revenue worldwide.
In terms of auction sales, two auction houses, both founded in London during the 18th century, dominate the market: Sotheby’s and Christie’s. In 2021, total sales of Sotheby’s worldwide, including public auctions and private sales, peaked at 7.3 billion U.S. dollars, going up by 46 percent over the previous year. Global sales of Christie’s also bounced back in 2021, totaling 7.1 billion U.S. dollars and experiencing a 61 percent annual increase. In terms of revenue, Poly Auction, Heritage Auctions, and Phillips followed as leading auction houses worldwide in 2021, all generating sales below two billion U.S. dollars.