In December last year, Sotheby's reported that nearly half of the $7.3 billion worth of art it sold that year, was acquired by first-time buyers. It also revealed that 44% of the auction house’s bidders this past year were first timers, including younger collectors.
This Art Basel, we are reflecting on who these new collectors are and how they are shaping the art market.
Younger people are taking a strong interest in collecting art – and changing the channels through which it is sold.
Many younger billionaires have emerged from success in industries such as cryptocurrencies, technology, e-commerce, and other high-growth areas. They include these self-made fortunes, but also more millennials and younger HNWIs who are inheriting significant wealth from older generations, which could have positive effects on the demand for art in the future. Indeed, they might want to sell some of the art they have inherited, meaning art works that haven’t been seen for decades might resurface.
While a number of these young collectors continue a generational collecting tradition, many have taken up the practice without any previous family history of art collecting. From research, most of Gen Z collectors still chose to focus on painting and sculpture, and do not exclusively focus on digital or multimedia.
The increase of these new collectors is having a strong impact on the current and future shape of the art market. They want easy accessibility, and a simplified way to acquire art.
Tech makes buying art easier than ever – one can now place a bid from their mobile phone. It is opening the art works to new people and first-time buyers.
For us at Artwide, it was important to embrace the future of collecting: with a technology that empowers collectors, we have simplified the process of collecting and have made high-end art more accessible. Through an app that connects you to a board of the most prestigious art dealers and art consultants, from one click on the app, the entire collecting process is taken care of, from the first to the last step of the journey: shipping, storage, insurance, security, art consulting.
These new first-time buyers are also looking for more transparency when it comes to commission fees – a topic usually kept very opaque in the traditional art world. I believe we need a straightforward process that enables transparency of fees, for clean investments.
The growing interest in digital art is of course, a very evident current trend of the art market, particularly for younger collectors. This is highest for millennial collectors, particularly in Asia.
Finally, one cannot ignore that China has now surpassed the United States to become the world’s largest fine-art auction market. The significant increase in Asian collectors means that the art market must become more decentralised and offer ways for collectors, on every side of the globe, to have easy access to art works, in the most secure manner.
Like all markets, the art one has to evolve. At Artwide, we firmly believe the art market must respond to these new collectors and embrace technology to make this transition.