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Art market worldwide - statistics & facts

The art market is a marketplace of buyers and sellers trading in the services, articles, and works of art commonly associated with the arts and cultural sector. It consists of the primary market – concerning artworks that are sold for the first time – and the secondary market, dealing with re-sales. Overall, the global art market was valued at 65.1 billion U.S. dollars in 2021, recovering from the sharp drop reported in 2020 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. In contrast, while the volume of global art sales also increased significantly in 2021, it remained below pre-pandemic levels. Meanwhile, online sales of the art and antiques market worldwide accounted for approximately a fifth of the total art market value.

Three countries and two auction houses dominate the global art market

In 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.

The rising importance of the online art market: the NFT factor

While the art market remains predominantly offline, the online art market gained momentum during the last few years. As the COVID-19 restrictions urged auction houses and art dealers to strengthen their digital departments, online sales of art and antiques skyrocketed in the first year of the health crisis. The positive trend did not stop in 2021, driven by the boom of crypto art and non-fungible tokens (NFTs). Crypto art refers to digital artworks that can be authenticated, and therefore sold, once they are turned into NFTs - unique digital assets stored in blockchain. In 2021, combined sales of art and collectibles NFTs worldwide amounted to roughly 11.16 billion U.S. dollars, denoting a huge increment over the previous years. That said, monthly NFT sales in the art segment have fluctuated significantly since April 2021.

Interesting statistics

In the following 6 chapters, you will quickly find the 35 most important statistics relating to "Art market worldwide".

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