The UBS and PwC  joint annual billionaires insight report, New wealth creators gain momentum, draws upon UBS and PWC’s extensive networks, and aims to better understand the billionaire population globally.

Currently in its fourth edition, the report illustrates a growth in engagement in art by billionaires, a trend that is helping to globalize art collecting and patronage. As wealthy collectors have emerged, new art fairs and galleries have sprung up in megacities such as Dubai, Hong Kong, Sao Paolo, Johannesburg and Shanghai.

While not a fresh phenomenon, private museums are growing in number especially in Asia. Motivated by their passion for art, art collectors are setting up private museums from Beijing, to Athens, to New York to share their collections with the public. Public museums are also receiving more funding from the billionaire community than before.

The way in which billionaires support art, and their motives, vary. “In today’s world, art can express many  things which you cannot do by other means anymore. I consider artists as today’s philosophers and poets,” noted one European third-generation billionaire.

The wider report reveals that Billionaire wealth returned to growth in 2016 after falling the year before.

  • Billionaire wealth expanded in 2016. Globally, the total wealth of billionaires rose by 17 percent to USD 6.0 trillion, double the rate of the MSCI World Index.
  • For the first time, Asian billionaires outnumbered their US counterparts. On average, a new billionaire was created in Asia every two days, with the total number of Asian billionaires rising by almost a quarter to 637, compared to 563 in the US and 342 in Europe. The US still retains the greatest concentration of wealth, growing by 15 percent from USD 2.4 trillion to USD 2.8 trillion, driven by technological innovation, financial services and materials.

Josef Stadler, Head Global Ultra High Net Worth, UBS, said: “This year we have seen not only a return to growth for billionaire wealth, but also a significant shift in its geographic dimensions. Dramatic growth in Asian wealth shows it could overtake the US in just four years.”

“Beyond this headline figure, billionaires are also having a wider impact on the global economy through the people they employ and the growth they foster. The societal effect of great wealth is, however, not exclusively economic. Through their own passion for arts and sports, they are playing an increasingly important role in enriching the cultural life of communities.”

“The findings of this report help us to stay ahead of the issues that matter to our clients, including over half of the world’s billionaires, and enable us to offer them more tailored advice based on insights from the market and from their peers.”

Patricia Amberg, Head of the UBS Art Competence Center said: "Billionaires are increasingly making significant contributions to local, national and international art scenes. Art collecting and patronage are becoming more globalized as emerging great wealth in new regions look to build their own art legacies." 

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