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The 2021 Art Market: A Leap Forward

Did the 2020 online art market boom change the art world forever?

2020 was a year of challenges and innovation. At SINGULART we saw massive shifts in the market as collectors moved online and the traditional art market adapted to the new normal. To better understand how 2020 changed the art landscape, we took a moment to dive into the Art Basel and UBS report, The Art Market 2021, authored by Dr. Clare McAndrew, founder of Arts Economics, to parse through her in-depth and sometimes surprising market report findings.

The report showed a seismic shift in the online art market as a whole. Rapid digitalization thrust the sector into the future, causing galleries to dive headfirst into an online world. Art world professionals tested and launched new ways to reach collectors at home with everything from online fairs to increased social media marketing on platforms such as Instagram and beyond. All of these changes resulted in an incredible doubling of value for the online art market, which took many by surprise. Previously online channels took six years to increase that much in the art sector.

UBS Art Basel Report

Not only did the online market take center stage in the art world, but it also overtook aggregate global retail in e-commerce for the first time ever. This was a huge moment, as retail has long enjoyed a comfortable seat as a steadfast goliath in e-commerce. This shift online was happening slowly before the COVID-19 pandemic, but this total digitalization created new opportunities that collectors jumped on.

The report indicates that there is no longer a price point barrier that stops collectors from perusing high-ticket items. In fact, artworks that were over ten million dollars became the largest growing proportion of art sales in 2020. This shift is in large part due to access. The three largest auction market hubs of Greater China, the US, and the UK had to rapidly think beyond traditional channels and meet collectors online all around the world. 

That shift meant that not only did the traditional market need to rethink strategy, but it also opened up access to people who had previously been barred from entry. We can see this when we look at the breakdown of collector demographics. 2020 saw Millennials and Gen X outpace Baby Boomers as the biggest spenders in art. 30% of High-Net-Worth Millennials spent over 1M in the art market versus only 17% of Baby Boomers. This comes in tandem with the world’s largest art marketplaces such as Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Philips exponentially growing their online sales. Sotheby’s, established in 1744, reported that new buyers were the key to art market resiliency in 2020.

Finally, SINGULART took on the international online market as it entered into the upper echelons of the art world. We are proud to see that the study places SINGULART in the top 3 online art market leaders and as one of the best websites where to buy art online. Over the course of 2020 and into 2021, our platform has broadened its reach and continued to empower artists around the world. We are thrilled to meet all of our new collectors and are here to be a guide in the pursuit of great art. We are currently developing new ways to build our international community and are working to further democratize access to the art market. We will continue to push the boundaries of what it means to be a leading art platform and look forward to what is to come in 2021 and beyond.

Find the original UBS Art Basel Report, The Art Market 2021, here!