Wealthy Collectors Are Optimistic and Cautious in Art Basel UBS Survey

Thursday, November 2, 2023
Wealthy Collectors Are Optimistic and Cautious in Art Basel UBS Survey

The report revealed strong High Net Worth (HNW) collector spending in the first half of the year, with a notable increase from Mainland China post-lockdown, as in-person buying also continued its resurgence.

There were some signs that HNW collectors exhibited greater risk-aversion in their collecting so far in 2023 compared to 2022, with more spending on paintings and less on digital art, and as more HNW collectors planned to hold off selling works from their collection in the next year. Nonetheless, the HNW collectors surveyed did not gravitate to the higher end of the market, with a lower share spending on artworks at the highest price points than in previous years.

Despite the volatile backdrop of a high-interest rate environment, ongoing conflicts in Ukraine, and heightened tensions in the Middle East, the survey reveals a resilient art market. The first half of the year witnessed a double-digit decline in auction sales, yet international trade in art and antiques thrived, notably in Hong Kong, the UK, and the US. The vibrancy of Art Basel Hong Kong and the emergence of new Asian collectors in Swiss editions attested to the market’s enduring vitality.

HNW collectors displayed unwavering confidence, with Mainland Chinese collectors leading spending in the first half of 2023 after emerging from pandemic-induced lockdowns. In-person buying surged, with 86% of collectors making purchases through dealers and 84% opting for in-person acquisitions at galleries or premises. Interest in overseas galleries focused on France and Japan, mirroring a fascination with French and Japanese artists.

A noteworthy revelation from this study was the prevalent use of credit among collectors. 43% of participants utilized borrowing to finance their collections, showcasing a robust response to higher interest rates, with ultra-high-net-worth collectors funding half of their collections through credit channels.

Looking ahead, 77% of surveyed collectors expressed confidence in the art market’s performance, indicating a baseline resilience within the sector. Against shifting global dynamics, this survey delves into the motivations propelling collectors. It delves into purchasing intent, risk attitudes, financing strategies, and travel habits, offering a comprehensive view of the art collecting landscape.

In this ever-changing environment, the role of collectors remains paramount. Their commitment to artists and the industry is fundamental, shaping the trajectory of the art market. Art collection, far beyond a mere act of acquisition, becomes a testament to the human spirit and identity. Collectors’ pursuit of quality and meaningful artistic expressions fosters dialogues, transcending the familiar and embracing diverse concepts.

Amid these challenges, responsible collecting emerges as a beacon of change. Collectors become catalysts, influencing the industry’s long-term direction and nurturing the creative community. The survey, conducted with dedication and precision by Dr. Clare McAndrew, underscores the transformative power of collecting, inspiring conversations that celebrate courage, resilience, and the enduring spirit of discovery in the art world.



Each year, Art Basel and UBS co-produce two publications which assess the global art market and trends in art collecting. Published in the spring, The Art Basel and UBS Global Art Market Report assesses the international trade in art. The Art Basel and UBS Survey of Global Collecting is released each autumn and dives more deeply into the buying behaviors of HNW collectors. Both publications are authored by Dr. Clare McAndrew of Arts Economics are available for free at theartmarket.artbasel.com.

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Image of the Day

Anna Melnykova, "Palace of Labor (palats praci), architector I. Pretro, 1916", shot with analog Canon camera, 35 mm Fuji film in March 2022.

Anna Melnykova, "Palace of Labor (palats praci), architector I. Pretro, 1916", shot with analog Canon camera, 35 mm Fuji film in March 2022.


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