Art Market

Millennial art collectors are twice as likely as previous generations to view art as an asset class.

Alexander Forbes
Jun 27, 2018 4:52PM, via U.S. Trust 2018 Insights on Wealth and Worth

Millennial art buyers, those born between 1981 and 1997, take a more financially attuned view of their collections compared to older art collectors, according to a new survey out from U.S. Trust of 892 high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth households:

Aesthetic enjoyment continues to be the primary reason for collecting art; however a generational shift now is underway. Younger collectors tend to be more financially driven and attuned to how their art behaves as a financial asset.

Millennials were twice as likely as the overall sample to say that art’s role as a “safe haven in volatile markets” and its ability to be “leveraged to build wealth” were reasons that guide their collecting. They were also more than twice as likely to see art as “an asset I plan to sell for a quick profit.”  

Courtesy of U.S. Trust 2018 Insights on Wealth and Worth.

By contrast, younger generations of collectors (both millennials and Gen-Xers) were also more attuned to art’s ability to raise “social consciousness” and serve “as a catalyst for change” than their forebears.

Why it matters

Millennials are the fastest growing generation among art buyers, growing by eight percentage points in this year’s survey. Now representing 27% of all collectors, these 21- to 37-year-olds have overtaken Gen-Xers, at 20%; there are more than double the number of millennial collectors than collectors born from the 1920s to 1940s, known as the Silent generation (9%). Should the trend towards a more financial mindset among these collectors continue, dealers and auction house specialists who have generally shied away from discussing art’s role as an asset and a work’s secondary market viability will need to adapt.

Alexander Forbes
Alexander Forbes is Artsy’s Senior Director of Collector Services & Private Sales.
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