The resurgence of in-person buying continued in 2023. 86% of HNW collectors purchased from a dealer, and of those, 84% bought in person from their gallery or premises (up from 73% in 2022). 58% made a purchase at an art fair, down from 74% in 2022, although still higher than 2021 (54%). Auctions were the next most widely used sales channel for collectors, with around three-quarters of respondents having bought at auction in the first half of 2023.
Just under half (47%) of total expenditure in 2023 was conducted through dealers, up by 2% on 2022. Including art fairs, the share of spending through dealers was higher in every market, with the narrowest margin in Mainland China, where spending at auction accounted for 35% of the total versus 41% through dealers (28% excluding art fairs).
There was little evidence of any significant broadening of focus in the galleries HNW collectors purchased from, with a stable 46% only buying from dealers they knew. While risk aversion may be an important factor, the trend to staying with established galleries may also indicate the success of some businesses in managing to maintain a steady collector base.
HNW collectors dealt with a relatively balanced share of local versus overseas galleries in 2023. However, there was a slight shift in preferences away from local galleries, with around half of respondents preferring to buy from a local gallery if given the choice, down by 6% on 2022. For the remainder, a stable 24% preferred overseas galleries, and the most popular regions included France and Japan, mirroring the strong interest reported in French and Japanese artists.
HNW collectors were being more selective about event attendance, reporting that they would attend 32 art-related events in 2023, nine less than in pre-pandemic 2019, with a small reduction (of 1 event) in gallery exhibitions, art fairs, and artist studio visits, and a more substantial drop in biennales and other large visual arts festivals (down by 3) and live auctions (down by 2, and paralleling a lower number of live auction sales in the major auction houses). Looking ahead to 2024, most collectors (92%) were planning to continue to attend art-related exhibitions and events, either the same number (43%) or more (49%) than in 2023.