Global art market sales drop estimated 11% in 2016

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Global art sales fell more than 10 per cent in 2016 as the value of fine art and antiques sold at auction dropped by more than a quarter from the previous year, according to an inaugural analysis of the sector commissioned by art fair organiser Art Basel.

The report, jointly published by UBS and research and consulting firm Arts Economics, shows total sales value fell 11 per cent last year to $56.6bn, the lowest level since 2012 and reflecting a second straight annual drop after a 2014 peak of $68.2m.

The value of sales at public auction dropped 26 per cent to $22.1bn, with sales of high-end works for more than $1m dropped 34 per cent last year.

The US remained the top location for sales with an annual market share of 40 per cent by value, although that was down 3 percentage points from 2015.

The UK came in second with a share of 21 per cent, unchanged from the previous year. But China claimed one more percentage point for its own last year, accounting for 20 per cent of the total – more than triple its share of just 8 per cent from 2006 and indicating a recovery from 2015, when it ceded substantial ground amid a pronounced slowdown in economic growth.

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