More than €51 billion* of art was traded in 2014. That marks a 7% increase over the €47.7 billion traded in 2013. It is also the highest-ever recorded transactional output by value for the art industry, beating out the 2007 pre-crash high of €48 billion. 2014 was the third consecutive year of growth.
Breaking down that growth by country and region yields some surprising results. What’s unsurprising is the seemingly unstoppable U.S. market, which grew at a rate of 10% year-on-year to a total €19.9 billion in sales in 2014. The U.S. held 39% of the global market by value in 2014, thanks to its business-friendly regulatory environment (palatable tax rates, favorable trade regulations, and no Droit de suite—also know as the artist resale right, fees paid to the creators of works sold on the secondary market) relative to those of the art market’s other major force, Europe.
Results in the U.K. were, however, slightly unexpected: the market expanded 17% after a 5% drop in transaction value in 2013. Strong results at the London auctions, particularly in the recent impressionist and modern sales, no doubt helped to push those figures upwards. Nonetheless, the U.K. market remains below its 2008 peak of €14 billion.
On the Continent, Germany yielded a surprise for any who have been following dealer outrage over a significant hike in the VAT rate on art purchases. Despite trade organizations’ claims that the higher 19% rate would cause sales to tumble, the German market saw more than a 10% boost by value in 2014.
China’s economy had its most sluggish year
of the last 24 in 2014 with GDP expanding at a (still rapid by developed economy standards) rate of 7.4% after many years of double-digit growth figures. That’s appearing to have a ripple effect in the art market as well. Sales declined by almost 0.5% in 2014, with the country also losing two percentage points of global market share (from 24% to 22%), ranking more or less evenly with the U.K. last year.