BlogApril 25, 2019

4 Highlights from Dr. Clare McAndrew’s ‘Art Market 2019’ Report

An Art Basel and UBS Report, Prepared by Dr. Clare McAndrew, Founder of Arts Economics

Dr. Clare McAndrew, founder of Arts Economics, is a cultural economist, probably considered by most art market followers the leading analyst of art markets globally. Among the many important publications Art Economics has prepared since 2005, her firm has published an annual art market report for Maastricht for several years and, since 2017, is instead preparing her Art Market Report for Art Basel sponsored by UBS.


The Art Market 2019 is available to download free of charge online at this link.  We strongly encourage art collectors and investors to read this valuable and informative publication.


We have noted from the above a select 4 highlights that we think our readers would find especially interesting. Our brief comments about each one follow below.


1. Private Sales Account for 53% of the Global Art Market (vs. Auction 47%)

Dealer and gallery sales in 2018 were greater in value than sales at public auction [1] [2].   We dealers conduct our art businesses discreetly while auction houses do the opposite, regularly sending out press releases. These press releases, are often published by the press looking for stories about money and wealthy people. It becomes free advertising for them. The result is that  the general public, and even collectors themselves have little awareness that the art gallery dealing community conducts a larger amount of business in dollar values than does the auction platform.


2. Financial and Economic Uncertainty Expected to Negatively Affect Auctions as Buyers Favour More Discrete Art Gallery Venue

Looking toward 2019, it would appear that Dr. McAndrew speculates that the fine art dealing galleries may be the preferred venues where high net worth individuals will go to purchase [3]. We are inclined to suggest that, if this is a fair interpretation of Dr. McAndrew’s statement, for our part we would think that sellers of important fine art would be best served to sell in the more discrete art gallery venue.


3. Art Galleries are the preferred and most frequently used sales channel

Art Dealers are the preferred channels to both buy and sell art and art objects [4] [5]. These are of course self explanatory. 


4. For collectors who desired more transparency in the art market, the transparency desired was that of provenance and authenticity [6]

With the dearth of catalogues raisonné in the Canadian art market, the most reliable “proof” of authenticity that a purchaser of art in the secondary market is going to get, in the absence of an available catalogue raisonné of the artist’s work, is to purchase from a dealer or vendor who has a market respected expertise in the work of the particular artist whose work one is buying. If the seller does not have the requisite expertise he or she should solicit it from a market respected expert and have that opinion accompany the purchase.


In previously published communications we have cautioned art buyers from relying exclusively on labels of reputable galleries that purportedly sold the work as “proof” of authenticity.  One cannot even be 100% certain that the knowledgeable dealer of yesteryear affixed his or her label to that precise picture. Labels are intentionally transferable because paintings are sometimes restored and frames changed. One wants the label to be transferred to the new support or frame. Is the label an authentic one? We’ll address this topic at greater length in another platform.


One could easily find “important” highlights referencing scores of pages. But, really, download Dr. McAndrew’s 408 page report at this link.  It's outstanding and valuable reading, an independent source, compiled by the world leader in the field.


 Browse our selection of available fine artwork, which has been vetted for quality, authenticity and value using three generations of expertise.



1. Dr. Clare McAndrew, The Art Market 2019, (Basel, Switzerland: Art Basel and Zurich, Switzerland: UBS Group AG, 2019), e-book, p. 17: “Dealer and gallery sales in 2018 reached an estimated $35.9 billion, up 7% year-on-year.”

2.  Ibid., p. 19: “Sales at public auction of fine and decorative art and antiques (excluding auction house private sales) reached $29.1 billion in 2018, an increase of 3% year-on-year...”

3.  Ibid., p. 370

4. Ibid., p. 364: “The most frequently used channel was a gallery or dealer, which was also the most preferred channel for purchases.”

5.  Ibid., p. 366:  “The Report similarly shows the most frequently used channel by sellers of art and art objects is the dealer and art galleries and also the most preferred sales channel."

6.  Ibid., p. 394 :  “It is interesting to note that, when the question of whether the art market was transparent enough was posed to HNW (high net worth) collectors across five different regions in 2018, the majority felt that it was. Most young collectors especially felt that the art market offered enough of the information they needed to manage their collections. For those collectors of all ages that wanted more transparency, the greatest areas of concern related to provenance and proof of authenticity."

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