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Wealthy millennials boosting the art market

Stock MarketsMar 08, 2019 01:30AM ET
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© Reuters. Logo of Sotheby's auction house is seen in Zurich

By Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi

ZURICH (Reuters) - The global art market experienced another uptick in 2018, helped by an increase in the spending power of millennials, a report published by UBS and Art Basel said on Friday.

A survey of wealthy individuals conducted by UBS and art economist Clare McAndrew for the report found millennials were buying art more actively and frequently taking to the internet to do so. It found that more of them were willing to shell out big money on art than their older peers.

They also provided a boost for female artists.

"For a generation that might never own a car, their appetite for buying art is encouraging," UBS Group Chief Marketing Officer Johan Jervøe told Reuters.

"It may be a reflection of the unique and often experiential qualities of art and collectibles as long-term assets."

Overall sales in the art market grew 7 percent to $67.4 billion in 2018, according to UBS and Art Basel's third annual art market report.

People between 22 and 37 years of age made up nearly half of the wealthy art buyers who regularly spent $1 million or more on an artwork over the past two years, the survey found, despite representing just over a third of the high-net-worth individuals surveyed.

The results of the survey, which was conducted in Britain, Germany, Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong, offered a silver lining for the art world as geopolitical and economic worries have weighed on overall sentiment.

As millennials grow into greater wealth, and benefit from a generational shift in wealth inherited from aging parents, their wealth could reach $24 trillion by 2020, according to Deloitte.

Millennials' spending habits could provide significant potential for both online sales and art's squeezed middle, Jervøe said, benefiting the industry's overall health.

This younger generation of collectors with over $1 million in household assets to spend or invest helped buoy the digital art marketplace to $6 billion sales last year.

And a majority of them also took to photo-sharing social media platform Instagram to source and buy art.

Between 2016 and 2018, 93 percent of the millennials made purchases online, spending $106,930 on average, while the slightly older Generation X - between 38 and 52 years of age -spent around half a million dollars on an average web purchase, but did so with less frequency.

Wealthy millennials boosting the art market
 

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