The global art market experienced another uptick in 2018, helped by an increase in the spending power of millennials. That’s according to a recent report conducted by UBS and art economist Clare McAndrew, and published by UBS and Art Basel.

A survey of wealthy individuals found that millennials were buying art more actively and frequently, even taking to the Internet to do so. It found that more of them were willing to shell out big money on art than their older peers. They also provided a boost for female artists.

“For a generation that might never own a car, their appetite for buying art is encouraging,” said Johan Jervoe, UBS Group Chief Marketing Officer. “It may be a reflection of the unique and often experiential qualities of art and collectables as long-term assets.”

Overall sales in the art market grew 7% to US$67.4bil (RM276bil) in 2018, according to UBS and Art Basel’s third annual art market report.

The survey found that people between 22 and 37 years of age made up nearly half of the wealthy art buyers who regularly spent US$1mil (RM4mil) or more on an artwork over the past two years, despite representing just over a third of the high-net-worth individuals surveyed.

The results of the survey – conducted in Britain, Germany, Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong – offered a silver lining for the art world as geopolitical and economic worries have weighed on overall sentiment.

As millennials grow into greater wealth and benefit from a generational shift in wealth inherited from ageing parents, their wealth could reach US$24tril (RM98tril) by 2020, according to Deloitte. Millennials’ spending habits could provide significant potential for both online sales and art’s squeezed middle, Jervoe said, benefiting the industry’s overall health.

This younger generation of collectors with over US$1mil (RM4mil) in household assets to spend or invest helped buoy the digital art marketplace to US$6bil (RM24.5bil) sales last year. And a majority of them also took to photo-sharing social media platform Instagram to source and buy art.

Between 2016 and 2018, 93% of the millennials made purchases online, spending US$106,930 (RM435,000) on average, while the slightly older Generation X – between 38 and 52 years of age – spent around half a million dollars on an average web purchase, but did so with less frequency. – Reuters