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Art market in the United Kingdom - statistics & facts

The United Kingdom is the leading European art market and one of the major hubs for the global art trade. In 2021, the UK made up approximately 17 percent of art and antiques sales worldwide, ranking third behind the United States and China. When comparing the global art market share in the UK and the European Union, the United Kingdom alone generated a higher value than all the 27 EU member countries. That said – likely due to the impact of Brexit on the art market – the UK market share dropped by three percentage points in 2021 over the previous year, while the EU share experienced an increase. Overall, global art and antiques sales amounted to roughly 65.1 billion U.S. dollars in 2021, bouncing back after the sharp drop experienced in 2020 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Art trade in the UK

In 2021, the value of works of art, collectors’ pieces, and antiques imported into the United Kingdom reached its lowest point in a decade, following the declining trend generated by the onset of the health crisis. That year, art and antiques imported into the UK were worth around 1.4 billion British pounds, with the highest value coming from non-EU trade imports. Non-EU countries also accounted for the highest value of art and antiques exported from the United Kingdom, totaling nearly 2.4 billion British pounds in 2021.

The UK auction market

As three of the leading auction houses worldwide - Christie’s, Sotheby’s, and Phillips – were originally founded in the British capital during the 18th century, it does not surprise that London still plays a pivotal role in the global auction market. When looking at the combined auction sales of Christie's, Sotheby's, and Phillips worldwide, London emerges as the second major auction hub after New York, reporting sales of 2.4 billion U.S. dollars in 2021. Focusing on the fine art auction sector, China, the United States, and the UK stood out again as the leading markets, with the UK generating 11 percent of the fine art auction revenue worldwide. That year, online sales represented around 16 percent of the sales value at fine art auctions in the United Kingdom. Meanwhile, online channels only consisted of seven percent of the transactions’ value in the U.S. and just one percent in China.

Interesting statistics

In the following 4 chapters, you will quickly find the 25 most important statistics relating to "Art market in the United Kingdom (UK)".

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