UBS and Art Basel on Collecting Trends in 2021


Please enjoy 5 highlights from UBS and Art Basel’s mid-year review of art collecting by high net worth individuals, chosen by our London-based Fine Art Consultant, Emma Barnes. This report focused on millennial collectors, who composed 64% respondents. 

The market is very active, which Heather James is seeing firsthand – 


1. Art is a significant portion of collectors’ overall portfolio.

  • 69% of collectors have at least 10% of their wealth in art, and 32% of collectors have over 30% of their wealth in art  
  • Notably, 1 in 5 collectors have transacted at $1M or higher in 2021

2. 33% of sales happened online, a percentage which has risen significantly and will continue to grow.


  • In 2021, 90% of sales at Heather James began through digital channels

3. Collectors prefer to buy from dealers more than other sources, and their spending reflects this preference.


  • Disaggregated, 80% of Boomers prefer dealers and 48% of Millennials and Generation Z prefer dealers

4. Reasons collectors prefer dealers to auctions and fairs are myriad, topped by quality of artworks, trustworthiness, and expertise.



5. Digital art constituted 12% of sales, driven by Millennials. 


  • That said, paintings were still preferred by Baby Boomers and constitute 60% of the market’s revenue. 
  • Heather James Fine Art enjoying discussing developments in the digital art and NFT space with our clients.

The Art Basel & UBS Mid-Year Review 2021 was prepared by Dr. Clare McAndrew, Founder of Arts Economics. You can access the full report here.

These highlights have been compiled by Emma Barnes. Emma leads Heather James Fine Art’s London consultancy following three years at the company’s Palm Desert, California, headquarters where she still divides time. She has also worked with Heather James New York and San Francisco. Emma has been instrumental in major deals including works by Vincent Van Gogh; Claude Monet; Diego Rivera; Edward Hopper; Georgia O’Keeffe; and Ed Ruscha. Her expertise spans blue-chip art across genres. Emma previously spent six years working in Washington, DC. She graduated cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania and with distinction from King’s College London, and was raised in Berkshire, England.


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