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The Art Market Globalization and Impact of the Museum Industry

This year’s percentage of Chinese artists in the top 500 was above 30%, clearly illustrating – in addition to the turnover figures – China’s supremacy vis-à-vis the USA, which only accounted for 15%.

Having driven up the prices of their compatriots in the 2000s, the major Chinese collectors are actively and vigorously diversifying their acquisitions. Aware of changes in their domestic market, they are investing in major signatures of Western art from all periods including Old Masters, Impressionists, Modern and Contemporary art.

The most spectacular auction bids seen in recent years no longer represent the whimsical splashes of headstrong billionaires. Nowadays the purchase of big-name masterpieces is usually the fruit of a carefully planned economic calculation: for the museum industry, works by Da Vinci, Modigliani or Van Gogh guarantee global cultural influence and an exponential visitor growth rate.

The major Asian and Middle Eastern buyers are extremely well advised and are continuing their museum building programmes. With more than 700 new museums opening every year, the museum industry, standardized and taught by Artprice since 2007, has become a global economic reality of the 21st century. More museums opened between 2000 and 2014 than in the previous two centuries.

Demand for museum quality works from this industry has been one of the driving factors in the spectacular growth of the Art Market. Today’s museums are like yesterday’s cathedrals; open to people from all generations and all social classes eager to experience the singularity afforded by artworks in a world of increasing standardisation.

The global ubiquity of the Internet is a key factor in auction house marketing strategies worldwide, with operators seeking to bolster their market shares on all continents. Of the world’s 6,300 auction houses, 97% are today present on the Internet (versus just 3% in 2005). Mobile Internet is a powerful factor of economic disruption and it is prompting auction operators to modify their traditional business models. All the major operators (including Christie’s and Sotheby’s) of course, plus practically all the minor operators are now convinced that Internet is their future. In 2016, Internet-based secondary market sales turnover of Fine Art posted an increase of more than 110%.


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