The median expenditure on art and antiques by high-net-worth (HNW) collectors surveyed across 11 markets worldwide reached $65,000 in 2022, up by 19% on 2021. The median level in the first half of 2023 was reported at $65,000, indicating a potentially substantial rise for the year if spending continues.
Median expenditure increased in nearly all markets in 2022, with some of the largest advances in the UK and Taiwan (both up by 30%) and more moderate growth in the US (5%) and Hong Kong (2%). After a decline of 6% in 2022 to $202,000, collectors from Mainland China reported the highest median expenditure in the first half of 2023, at $241,000, showing a strong return to spending post-lockdown.
The majority of spending so far in 2023 was on paintings (58%), with works on paper the second-largest component (13%). Mainland Chinese collectors’ spending on paintings was nearly four times the average, and up by 20% on 2022. They were the highest average spenders in several other mediums, with the notable exception of digital art.
The share of spending on digital art was just 3% of HNW collectors’ total expenditure in 2023 so far, and digital artworks made up 8% of their collections, down from 15% in 2022. This decline parallels trends on external NFT platforms, where, by mid-2023, sales of art-related NFTs had fallen to their lowest level since January 2021, with monthly turnover at about 2% of the value at their peak later that year.
Gen X collectors outspent their younger peers in some of the largest-value mediums in 2023, averaging the highest overall spending for paintings ($145,000 against $108,000 for millennials). They were also the highest spenders on works on paper, although millennials still spent more on sculptures, installations, photography, and film or video art. Gen Z collectors had the highest average expenditure on prints and digital art, indicating that these could be important and accessible mediums for younger collectors entering the art market.
HNW collectors spent less on works by female artists in 2022 and 2023 (with a ratio by value of 39% female to 61% male), and the share of works by women in collections decreased by 3% year-on year to 39% in 2023, reverting to the 2020 level. However, collectors spending over $10 million per annum tended to have a higher share of female artists’ works in their collections (54%), and their proportion of spending also increased from 46% in 2021 to 55% in 2023. This could indicate that, although undertaken by a minority of collectors, some of the spending at the very highest levels was on female artists.
The share of HNW collectors most commonly focused on buying works of art priced at over $1 million fell substantially from 12% in 2021 to 4% in 2022. There was some revival of those spending at higher price points in the first half of 2023 (9%), however, even with these increases, levels were below those of 2021 and previous years, pointing to possible buyer caution and an increasingly thin high-end following the strong post-COVID-19 bounce back in sales.
The average allocation to art in the wealth portfolios fell to 19% in 2023, from a peak of 24% in 2022. This is potentially indicative of a more cautious approach to collecting, with a greater focus on more liquid financial assets, or less inclination to spend on discretionary purchases than in previous years and higher opportunity costs. The size of the allocation to art rose positively with collector wealth, ranging from an average of 15% for those with wealth of under $5 million to almost 30% for ultra-high-net-worth collectors with wealth of over $50 million.