Fine Art turnover dropped about 22% in 2020. Online selling went up from 9 to 25% of total business, but the most expensive artwork put at auction are sold in live events.
Covid-19 brought important changes in the Fine Art’s market, forcing gallery owners, agents, fairs and auction houses to change their working methods to keep maintaining a relationship with their clientele of collectors and enthusiasts: besides to new digital works of art, which have recently made headlines for the exponential growth of their market, supported by new technologies, the industry as a whole is moving online.
During 2020, the Fine Art market registered a drastic turnover reduction: according to a recent Art Basel report, in conjunction with UBS Bank, the worldwide industry made a total of 50,1 billion dollars, accusing a 14 billion loss, which is a 22% reduction compared to 2019, and 27% to 2018.
Coronavirus forced a huge number of art galleries to temporarily shut down and 61% of worldwide fairs have been called off, as well as public auctions. As a matter of fact, the situation led to a more cautious attitude of the owners, who decided to invest in less valuable art works, waiting for better times to sell their most valuable goods. The consequence of this diminished presence was a cut in ancillary costs (-16%) and staff with an employment reduction of 5% in the whole industry, along with a drop of the overall transactions, to its lowest level since 2009.
Retail market suffered a physiological reduction (just think that the expenses for the fairs represented only 10% of the total), while online sales increased. «Despite the contraction of sales overall, the component of online sales of art and antiques reached a record high of $12.4 billion, doubling in value from 2019. The share accounted for by online sales also expanded from 9% of sales by value in 2019 to 25% in 2020» reports The Art Market 2021 by Art Basel.
A never-seen-before growth in this market, as shown in the following graph from the same report.