The Art Basel and UBS Global Art Market Report 2022

Discover key findings from the Asia Pacific region

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Our annual analysis of the global art market revealed some fresh insights into the developments in APAC. How did sales evolve? How did the art market deal with the ongoing effects of the pandemic? Did the shift to online continue unabated? What was the impact of the rise of NFTs?

Authored by renowned cultural economist Dr Clare McAndrew, Arts Economics, the Art Basel and UBS Global Art Market Report offers the definitive guide to the rapidly changing art market landscape. The report also features results from a survey of 2,339 HNW art collectors across 10 key markets by UBS Investor Watch and Arts Economics – providing insights into buyer behavior.

Here, we share six APAC-specific key findings from the 2022 report, which can be downloaded in full below:

A strong recovery in APAC

The Chinese art market was the second largest art market behind the US, with a 20% share by value of the global market. Sales in Greater China saw a significant uplift of 35% reaching $13.4 billion and pushing ahead of the UK market in the global ranks. Dealers in Asia reported some of the most substantial increases in sales, with an aggregate rise of almost a third. Some of the strongest advances in the region were reported in Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore.

China holds largest share of the auction market

China contributed one third of the global share by value in the 2021 public auction market - the largest share, and marginally ahead of the US. China remained the largest market for sales in the wider Old Masters sector in 2021, although its share by value declined 15% to 43% (and 15% of lots sold). Behind the highest selling artist Sandro Botticelli in this sector, the remaining top five artists were all Chinese, including Zhou Zhimian, Yun Shouping, Dong Qichang, and Hongren. Together they accounted for 8% of the total value of the sector.

HNW collectors in APAC engaged

Despite the pandemic, spending by HNW collectors at the level of over $1 million per year expanded. Mainland China had the highest amount of spending at this level (44%), with collectors here reaching the highest median expenditure of $475,000 on fine art, decorative art and antiques.

Adrian Zuercher, Head Global Asset Allocation & Co-Head Global Investment Management APAC, UBS Chief Investment Office finds:

Asia’s art market demonstrated strong growth in 2021, echoed by the broader economic rebound we have seen in the region. Our HNW survey reports significant rise in active spending, particularly in Mainland China. Despite the ongoing pandemic, the survey’s findings reflect a sense of enduring confidence, with the majority of HNW collectors surveyed in Asia expressing optimism about the months ahead. This was mirrored amongst dealers in the region, who have enjoyed continued local support from engaged collectors.

HNW collectors in APAC prefer to view art offline and buy from local galleries

Although HNW collectors generally preferred to view art for sale ‘offline’, around 30% of collectors in Hong Kong and Singapore had a stronger preference for ‘online’ (compared to other markets). If given the choice, three quarters of the surveyed HNW collectors in China bought locally and only 6% opted for overseas galleries.

Interest in NFTs

Across all markets, three quarters of HNW collectors surveyed had purchased an NFT of some kind in 2021, and that share was as high as 81% in Taiwan, with younger and newer collectors having the highest uptake. This is consistent with millennial collector’s interest in buying digital artworks, where Taiwan showed the highest share of 71%, followed by Singapore with 62%.

HNW collectors as patrons

Around a third of HNW collectors in Hong Kong preferred to purchase an artwork directly from an artist’s studio and were more likely to have commissioned works from artists. Hong Kong also had the highest share of HNW collectors identifying themselves as patrons, at 12%, who mostly collected to support groups of artists. Around half of HNW collectors in Mainland China reported never having resold works from their collections, the highest share by a large margin, followed by those in Hong Kong.