The most recent publication of ARTnews’ “200 Top Collectors” in the Art World, its 25th edition since its 1990 inception, highlights the most influential and prolific investors in the art market. The annual list, compiled from interviews with art world experts and in-house research, profiles the 200 collectors’ residences, sources of income and collecting specialities. Accompanying this year’s landmark release, ARTnews provided an insightful breakdown-with pie charts and bar graphs galore-visualizing how today’s major investors of art compare to those in the collecting landscape 25 years ago. While for the most part the list has remained relatively stable, (only 23 new collectors were added to the list this year), the numbers ultimately reflect that the increasingly global art world (and market) has changed the collector’s profile since 1990, especially in regards to collector origins and their preferences for certain art types.
Contemporary Art Reigns Supreme
Collectors overwhelmingly invest in contemporary art. Of the list’s 200, almost all collect Contemporary artworks, a 29% increase from 1990’s 61%. More than 50% gather Modern Art, the second most popular type of art in the list’s collections. While the number has fallen from 15% in 1990 to 10% today, Old Masters still rank third in the top 200’s collections. Nevertheless, a recent old master and British paintings auction at Sotheby’s saw only 65% works sell for a total of £35.1 million compared to last year’s equivalent sale which raised £68.3 million (New York Times).
Similarly, the popularity of Impressionism/Post-Impressionism (5th most popular) has fallen from 18% to 9% in 25 years, while Asian art has grown to be the 4th most popular art to collect.
In 1990, only 17 countries were represented, while today’s list encompasses collectors from 35 counties. Collectors from the United States account for more than half of the list; however, their representation on the list has decreased 4% from 1990’s 57%.
Demonstrated in the graph below, collectors from Asia (like avid spenders Wang Zhongjun and Wang Jianlin) have spiked over the last 10 years, with collectors from Russia & Ukraine, like Dasha Zhukova who has reopened Moscow’s Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, steadily rising.
While top collectors’ origins are becoming more diversified, their sources of income complement the increasingly high stakes nature at auction. Bloomberg reports that 39.5% of the list come from the financial sphere, up by 11.5% since 1990. Many think pieces have responded to the billion dollars plus spent at auction since May, headed by the $179.4 million sale of Picasso’s Les Femmes d’Alger. Their predictions of the art market’s future ultimately correlate with the buying trends of its major investors and we are waiting for ARTnews’s 50th edition of the list. For now, our attention is focused on what new-to-the-list and art-fair extraordinaire Leonard Dicaprio will purchase next.