How many private art & design collectors are there and what are their demographics?

of one

How many private art & design collectors are there and what are their demographics?

There are an estimated 8,000 to 10,000 art collectors worldwide, according to the most recent study completed by Larry's List. Collectors are predominantly male and the average age is 59. A majority of art collectors are located in the US and have a minimum of $1 million of disposable income. It is predicted that by 2020, millennials will compose a majority of the art collecting market. Below we expand further on our findings regarding the number of collectors and the main demographics, as well as providing other relevant findings encountered during our research.

Number of Collectors

According to research from Larry's List, published in 2015, there are an estimated 8,000 to 10,000 art collectors worldwide who regularly purchase substantially-priced artworks. Within their database of collectors, Larry's List acquired the details of just over 3,000 individuals and there are an estimated further 7,000 collectors who are also active in the market.


The average age of art collectors globally is 59 years of age. Also, men make up 71% of collectors, as represented by over 3,000 art collectors who took part in Larry's List's latest research.

Each generation seems to hold differing preferences when it comes to collecting art, with consideration to style, type, value and the risk involved with collecting. In the US, as art collectors age, they place further importance on the aesthetic value of the artworks they collect. Mature age groups are also more likely to believe that the idea of investing in art is risky. Also, of the older art collectors, of the Baby Boomer generation, 84% state that aesthetic value drives their purchasing of artworks.

Millennial art collectors are more likely to consider taking risks and are willing to network to complete art transactions. They also use social media to research and buy art pieces. Millennials reportedly purchase equal amounts of art online and in person, according to ArtNet. It is estimated that millennials will spend approximately $1.4 trillion each year on art purchases by 2020. Young collectors are also more likely to buy and sell artworks according to their market value and viewed only in investment terms. This differs greatly from the view of older collectors who prefer to purchase pieces that will remain with them for a lifetime and, in a way, form an extension of their own autobiography.

With regard to the education level of art collectors, 63% of households who buy art contain someone who holds a Bachelor Degree. Education is also a key variable in relation to interest in art, according to Luxury Daily.

Art collectors, as defined by Larry's List, are generally those who have a minimum of $1 million of disposable income. They are considered high- or ultra-high-net-worth individuals and are active in purchasing a number of artworks. As for the average income of art collectors in the US, 20% of the wealthy collect art, with 32% of people who are worth more than $10 million collecting art, 24% of people worth between $5 and $10 million and 19% of people worth $3 to $5 million doing the same.

According to the Top 200 Collectors, compiled by ArtNews, 39.5% of collectors in this group come from the finance industry. The next most common industry for collectors was real estate with 17%, followed by fashion with 9.5% and consumer goods and philanthropy each holding 7%.

Of the Top 200 cohort, 113 collectors came from North America, 54 from Europe, 24 from Asia, seven from South America, one each from Australia and Africa.


Contemporary and post-war art held a majority of the market with 46% of the value in 2015. Revenue totaled $6.8 billion but this was a drop of 14% from the previous year, as well as recording a 20% drop in the total number of transactions. Modern art was the next most popular style of art with 30% of total art sales with a total revenue of $4.5 billion.

With regard to what collectors do with their art collections in the future, 79% of US-based collectors state that they plan to pass on their artworks to family members. In addition to this, 30% have considered donating their collections and 26% are thinking about selling all or most of their collection in the future.

Market Value
According to the TEFAF Art Market Report 2016, in 2015, the global art market reported a total revenue of $63.8 billion. This was a drop of 7% from year-on-year figures from the previous year. It was also the first year there has been a decline in art revenue since 2011.

The US held the majority share of the global art market in 2015 with 43%. This was followed by the UK with 21%, China with 19%, France with 9%, Germany and Switzerland each with 2% and Italy and Spain with a 1% market share. The remaining 5% represented the share of the art market from the remaining countries around the world. As for sales by country, the US reported sales to the value of $27.3 billion in 2015. Sales in the UK totaled $13.5 billion and in China, $11.8 billion in sales were recorded.

Transactions and sale type
The number of art transactions that took place during 2015 was 38.1 million. This was also down from the previous year by 2% when comparing year-on-year figures. Private and art dealer sales made up approximately 53% of all art transactions in 2015. The remaining 47% were sales made through auctions.

It was also noted in the TEFAF Art Market Report 2016, that while high-end purchases (sales over $10 million) only account for 0.1% of transactions, the value of these transactions represented 28% of the total art sales revenue. With regard to the value of the majority of art sales, 90% of art auctions recorded a price of under $50,000 which accounted for just 12% of the value of all art sales. In contrast to this, sales over $1 million made up 57% of the total art sales revenue.

Trend: Online Purchasing
The purchase of art online is increasing and with the growing popularity of visual social platforms such as Instagram, discovering new artists has become accessible to everyone. In 2015, online sales were estimated to worth $4.7 billion, an increase of 7% when comparing year-on-year sales from the previous year. This also equates to 7% of the global art market according to value.

In summary, it is estimated that there are between 8,000 and 10,000 art collectors worldwide. The average age of a collector is 59 and buyers are predominantly male. Art collectors are most commonly located in the US and have at least $1 million of disposable income. As for the future, millennials are predicted to become the largest market for art sales by 2020.

Dive deeper

Only the project owner can select the next research question.
Need related research? Let's launch your next project!