5 Themes That Will Define the Art Market in 2024
Following a tricky year for the art market, 2024 begins on note of anticipation. While economic growth is forecast to slow and geopolitical tensions show no signs of abating, positive signals are surfacing—from falling inflation to the prospect of lower interest rates—and could inject the art market with a dose of much-needed confidence. It’s certainly looking like a more optimistic picture than this time last year.
Here, we share the five key themes to keep an eye on in the art market in 2024.
1. The performance of blue-chip works at auction
Contemporary Art Evening auction at Sotheby’s New York, November 2023. Courtesy of Sotheby’s.
There’s no question that 2023 was a down year for the auction market. Christie’s and Sotheby’s reported a combined auction and private sales total of $14.2 billion in 2023, a 13% decrease from $16.4 billion in 2022. This slump was felt acutely at the top end of the market, where the top 100 lots at auction last year generated a little more than half the sales value compared to the year before, falling from $4.1 billion in 2022 to $2.4 billion last year.
It’s important to note that 2023 came after a bumper year of historical, record-breaking sales at auction, which partly explains the fall in numbers.
Fairs, auction houses and AI: five predictions for the art market in 2024
The U.K. Is Barring the Export of a Rare Medieval Statue Acquired by the Met. Will the V&A Snap It Up?
The ivory treasure was on long-term loan to the V&A, before the Met acquired it for $2.5 million.
The U.K.’s under-secretary of state for arts and heritage, Stephen Parkinson, has temporarily withheld the export license for an exceptionally rare 12th-century ivory statue. Deposition from the Cross (ca. 1190–1200) was sold privately by Sotheby’s to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York late last year for more than $2.5 million, on the condition that it would be granted an export license.
The piece had been on long-term loan to the Victoria & Albert Museum in London from 1982 until late 2022, and the museum or any other buyer based in the U.K. now has until February 2 to either match the Met’s offer or signal their serious intent to raise the necessary funds. In the latter case, the deadline could be extended by an additional four months.