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section heading icon     turnover

This page considers the size of the art market and of other collectibles markets.

It covers -

     introduction

How big is the "art market" (a term sometimes used as a surrogate for a handful of high-end commercial galleries and auction houses) and the broader market for collectibles?

The answer is simple: there is significant disagreement about -

  • how much money is involved?
  • who is buying - Russian billionaires, US hedge fund managers, Chinese kleptocrats?
  • who is selling?
  • who are the intermediaries
  • where growth is occurring
  • what are the implications of tax or other regulatory initiatives (eg recurrent claims by UK dealers that droit de suite would "ruin" the industry - or merely crimp their ability to buy Colombian nose candy - have proven to be false)

A report by economist Clare McAndrew for the European Fine Art Foundation (TEFAF) claimed that art dealer sales in 2006 reached U$28.6 billion, estimated as slightly more than 50% of the presumed US$54.9 billion global total. That figure encompassed an estimated 1 million transactions. The report was based on surveys of 3,500 dealers and 3,000 auction houses.

The US supposedly accounted for US$25 billion of the sales of fine and decorative art, with the UK enjoying a "60 percent share of the European market, and 27 percent global share" (followed by France and Germany). China was supposedly "now the world’s fourth largest global art market, with 5 percent of world sales by value".

A 2007 report in Barron's sized turnover in the global "private art market" during 2007 as around US$30 billion. A survey of dealers, art advisers and collectors by US-based ARTnews claimed that global private art sales in 2007 were between US$25 billion and US$30 billion.

The chair of PaceWildenstein more modestly commented that "It's impossible to know how big the private art market is", before going on to estimate that "it's two to three times the auction market".






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version of December 2006
© Bruce Arnold
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