Report: Pandemic Cuts Modern and Contemporary Gallery Sales by 36 Percent

The survey, by Art Basel and UBS, analyzes the effect of the coronavirus on the world’s art dealers. Sales are down, but the wealthy are still buying.

By Scott Reyburn

LONDON — The coronavirus pandemic has reduced sales at commercial galleries specializing in modern and contemporary art by an average of 36 percent during the first half of 2020, according to a report published Wednesday by Art Basel and UBS.

Based on responses from 795 galleries representing 60 different national markets, the report, called “The Impact of Covid-19 on the Gallery Sector” and written by the cultural economist Clare McAndrew, is the first major survey of how the pandemic has affected the world’s art dealers. Last year, global sales of art and antiques were estimated to have reached $64.1 billion, with dealers accounting for 58 percent of those sales, according to an earlier Art Basel and UBS’s annual analysis.

“This is big and global and across the board,” Ms. McAndrew said in a phone interview. The challenge has been “much bigger” than the last financial crisis, she added. “Sales will eventually recover, but I’m worried about the effect on employment,” Ms. McAndrew said.

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