The Collector’s Beat

Published by Art Basel and UBS, The Survey of Global Collecting 2023 delves into the behaviors and perspectives of high-net-worth collectors amid economic uncertainties. While spending on traditional mediums continues to dominate, evolving trends and socio-economic factors consistently influence collectors’ decisions.

Art, often classified as a luxury good, demonstrates a high-income elasticity of demand, indicating that demand rises more than proportionally with increasing income. However, art possesses unique characteristics, such as scarcity and illiquidity, setting it apart from other luxury goods.

Although both the art and luxury sectors have exhibited resilience, they remain susceptible to macroeconomic shifts, particularly changes in buyers’ financial confidence. The report focuses on the impact of higher interest rates on art demand across 11 markets and presents the following key findings:

Market Trends:

  • The auction sector showed a subdued market in H1 2023, with major auction houses experiencing a 16% decline in aggregate sales compared to H1 2022.


Buying and Selling Plans:

  • 54% of collectors intended to buy art in the next 12 months, while 26% planned to sell, down from 39% in 2022.
  • Philanthropic giving saw a decrease in 2023, with 32% planning to donate works to a charity or museum.
Helena Newman auctioneering Gustav Klimt's record-breaking Lady with a Fan. Courtesy of Sotheby's

Buying Channels:

  • In-person buying continued to rise, with 86% purchasing from dealers and 84% buying in person from galleries.
  • Auctions remained a significant sales channel, with 75% of collectors buying at auctions in H1 2023.


Art Medium Preferences:

  • Paintings accounted for 58% of spending in 2023, with digital art comprising only 3% of HNW collectors’ total expenditure.
  • Gen X collectors outspent millennials in certain mediums, while Gen Z showed a preference for prints and digital art.


Gender Representation:

  • Female artists’ share in collections decreased to 39% in 2023, with a lower ratio of female-to-male works by value. However, collectors spending over $10 million annually had a higher share of female artists in their collections (55%).

Featured Image: Georgina Hilton selling Jean-Michel Basquiat’s El Gran Espectaculo (The Nile) on May 15, 2023. Courtesy of Christie’s


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