Art Fairs and the Evolution of Selling

26 June 2017

The increase in both the number and geographical spread of international art fairs taking place over the last decade is a reflection of the way in which the art market is continuing to evolve. According to the 2017 Art Basel & UBS Art Market report and based on data tracked by Artfacts.net, the number of major art fairs has more than doubled since 2006, from 108 to over 230 in 2016(1)

Art fairs provide a unique opportunity for buyers to access many prominent galleries in a single location, a convenience for an increasingly international marketplace of collectors. From a dealer’s perspective, whilst there can be significant expenses associated with attending fairs, particularly overseas, they continue to provide an important source of revenue, generating an estimated 41% of total dealer sales in 2016(2). And for artists’ themselves, art fairs provide an outlet for greater exposure and to deliver networking opportunities with both gallerists and collectors. 

Whilst there is evidence of participation declining over the past year with some dealers looking to reduce their total number of fairs to focus on key areas, estimated annual sales in excess of $13billion for 2016(3) would indicate that they will continue to play an important role in the way in which art sales are transacted. 

Here in the UK, the number of major art fairs taking place in London has doubled in the last 10 years, up to 12 in 2016(4), with notable upcoming highlights including the 20/21 British Art Fair in September and Frieze and Frieze Masters in October. 

Next on the art calendar is Masterpiece London 2017, for which we are a proud partner for the second year running. Taking place from 29th June to 5th July and showcasing work from more than 150 galleries across a broad spectrum of art, antiques, jewellery and design, this is an unmissable event. 

When buying or selling at a fair - what do our clients need to consider?

As a collector, when buying at an art fair it is important to ensure that your insurance will provide automatic coverage for any new acquisitions instantly from the time of purchase if you are looking to take them straight home with you. In addition, if purchasing at an overseas fair you should verify that any transit coverage under your insurance policy applies internationally. In these cases, you will have peace of mind that your newly acquired works will have adequate protection in the event of any unforeseen damages caused during the course of shipping to you. 

For a dealer exhibiting at a fair, it is crucial to ensure you have adequate insurance cover for all of your stock. Due to the number of attendees in a condensed area, the risk of accidental damage occurring to works on display is heightened. And with the significant aggregation of values in a single location, planning ahead in anticipation of a major art fair is important, particularly if you are looking to take more stock than initially estimated at inception of your insurance policy. As a proud partner of Masterpiece London 2017, please stop by and visit us at Booth S4 to discuss all of your Fine Art insurance needs. 

Alternatively, for further information, please email Fine Art Risks, fineart@jltgroup.com.

References 1-4: The Art Basel and UBS Global Art Market Report 2017