The latest statistics are an uncomfortable read for art fair organisers heading into 2024. The latest Survey of Global Collecting, compiled for Art Basel and UBS by the art economist Clare McAndrew, found that high-net-worth collectors attended one fewer fair on average during the first half of 2023 than in the equivalent period of 2022. Worse, the share of such collectors buying from these events fell from 74% to 58% over this span.

The 2023 Art Market report, an earlier study by McAndrew—and note that this too was sponsored by Art Basel, so is as flattering to fairs as the facts allow—found the share of sales made by dealers at fairs fell from 42% in 2019 to 35% in 2022. Taking up the slack are the dealers themselves; the proportion of gallery sales grew from 40% to 47% over the same period, giving all fair exhibitors food for thought.

Anecdotally, the increasing costs of fair stands and their associated shipping, travel and entertainment budgets were already taking quite a toll pre-pandemic, but inflation has made it more acute. While online and other remote sale channels have been reduced to accessories now that we can go out to see art again, collaborative gallery events, including the galvanising openings on London’s Cork Street during Frieze in 2023, are on the up. Read More Here