Artwork trade in the UKIn 2020, the value of works of art, collectors’ pieces, and antiques imported into the United Kingdom reached its lowest point in a decade. In that year, art and antiques imported into the UK were worth around 1.6 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, which reached to over five billion British pounds in 2020.
Leading auction housesThree of the leading auction houses worldwide - Christie’s, Sotheby’s, and Phillips – were originally founded in the British capital during the 18th century. In 2020, Sotheby’s reported the highest revenue in the UK and the U.S., while Christie’s led the French market. In that year, due to the health crisis, many auction houses organized digital sales as an alternative to in-person events.
On July 10, 2020, British auction house Christie’s launched the first major global online sale. The event, named ONE, was a live streaming auction presented in sequence from Hong Kong, Paris, London, and New York. A painting by the artist Roy Lichtenstein sold during the online auction and ended up being the most expensive lot sold by Christie’s in 2020. The pandemic helped to boost auction houses interest in online events, with total sales in the online art and antiques market worldwide roughly doubling in 2020 over the previous year.