Art Dealers and Galleries

Industry Profile Report

Dive Deep into the industry with a 25+ page industry report (pdf format) including the following chapters

Industry Overview Current Conditions, Industry Structure, How Firms Operate, Industry Trends, Credit Underwriting & Risks, and Industry Forecast.

Call Preparation Call Prep Questions, Industry Terms, and Weblinks.

Financial Insights Working Capital, Capital Financing, Business Valuation, and Financial Benchmarks.

Industry Profile Excerpts

Industry Overview

The 4,600 art dealers, galleries, and auction houses in the US generate revenue by selling artwork or earning commissions from consignments. With a consignment sale, the dealer earns a commission based on a percentage of the purchase price. Auction houses earn commissions based on the hammer (sale) price. Primary-market dealers develop relationships with promising new artists and help establish a market for their work. Secondary-market dealers specialize in art for resale on behalf of collectors, institutions and estates.

Long Sales Cycle, Slow Moving Inventory

Art dealers and galleries often have significant investments in inventory, with no indications of a quick return.

Vulnerability to the Economy

Demand for art is sensitive to economic conditions, and drops during periods of uncertainty.

Industry size & Structure

The average art dealer operates out of a single location, employs 4 workers, and generates over $2 million annually.

    • The art dealer, gallery, and auction industry consists of about 4,600 companies that employ about 18,000 workers and generate about $10 billion annually.
    • The industry is concentrated; the top 20 firms account for 49% of sales.
    • Large companies, which include the Gagosian Gallery, David Zwirner Gallery, and The Pace Gallery, generally have a limited number of locations (ten or less) and often have international operations. The industry includes auction houses, such as Sotheby's.
    • Contemporary and modern art (art produced after 1875) accounts for 51% of global art trade, according to The European Fine Art Foundation.
                                Industry Forecast
                                Art Dealers and Galleries Industry Growth
                                Source: Vertical IQ and Inforum

                                Recent Developments

                                Mar 14, 2023 - Russian Sanctions Affect Art Markets
                                • Leading art markets have been vigorously enforcing sanctions on Russia that first went into place a year ago when the country invaded Ukraine, according to The Art Newspaper. Large art market jurisdictions, including the European Union, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States, have been closely monitoring the sanctions lists to identify violators of Russian sanctions. Bloomberg reported that federal prosecutors in New York have subpoenaed several auction houses for sales records to help identify improper transactions. The article mentioned that some art market participants use a “belt and braces” approach to sanction checks by searching their lists twice: first at the time of the commitment to buy or sell and then a second time before sending or accepting the payment. Art market participants often have to expand the scope of their checks for deals done at an international art fair or event. The art dealer has to check not only the sanction list in their home country but also in the jurisdiction where the transaction occurs and where the client is based.
                                • Consumer confidence levels declined in February 2023 for the second consecutive month, according to data from The Conference Board. The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index fell to 102.9 in February 2023 from 106 in January 2023, as high prices and rising interest rates affected consumers’ willingness to spend. According to Ataman Ozyildirim, a senior director of economics at The Conference Board, “Consumer confidence declined again in February. The decrease reflected large drops in confidence for households aged 35 to 54 and for households earning $35,000 or more.” Plans to purchase homes, vehicles, and appliances have cooled, in addition to a drop in vacation intentions, per Ozyildirim.
                                • The Artprice100 index of blue-chip artists showed a 3% increase in 2022, during an economically challenging year, according to While the blue-chip 100 index posted an increase, the overall art market prices reflected a contraction of 18% in 2022 due to several factors, including the suspension of art auctions in China and the weakening of the euro against the dollar. The index includes a portfolio of the world’s top-selling artists based on their auction revenue over the previous five years, and for each artist, at least 10 works must have been auctioned annually.
                                • Global auction turnover from the sale of art-NFTs (nonfungible tokens) reached $13 million in 2022, compared to $232 million the previous year, according to Buyers have been more selective in their purchases, resulting in an art-NFT unsold rate of 36% in 2022, compared to 12% in 2021. According to Thierry Ehrmann, CEO of and founder of Artprice, “This year, the NFT market has found a better balance between supply and demand, a balance comparable to that prevailing in the Fine Art Market.” According to the report, all aspects of the traditional art world have shown substantial interest in NFTs on an institutional and private level. More major galleries are opening their spaces to “digital” artists for the first time.
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