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Report: Wealthy Millennials Partly Responsible for Rising Art Prices

In this March 25, 2016 photo, a woman looks at an installation artwork created by Chinese artist Stella Zhang at Art Basel in Hong Kong.
Report: Wealthy Millennials Partly Responsible for Rising Art Prices
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Prices for works of art rose in the international art market in 2018. A report published recently links the rising art prices to the spending power of young people, namely millennials.

Millennials are defined as individuals born between 1981 and 1996. Many are just beginning to work in high-paying jobs, and they are investing some of their money in the art market.

The Swiss-based investment bank UBS and Clare McAndrew, an art economist, studied wealthy individuals. They report that millennials were very active last year in the art market, often using the internet to buy art works. They also found many millennials were willing to pay more for art than older individuals.

Millennial art buyers provided support for female artists, the report noted.

For a generation that might never own a car, their hunger for buying art is encouraging, said UBS Group Chief Marketing Officer Johan Jervøe.

He told the Reuters news agency he believed millennials’ interest in art collecting may be a sign of the relative safety of art and collectibles as long-term assets.

Art Basel is one of the world’s biggest art dealers. Every year art collectors from around the world attend its shows in Basel, Hong Kong and Miami Beach. The Art Basel and USB report said that sales in the art market grew 7 percent to $67.4 billion in 2018.

Millennials made up nearly half of the wealthy art buyers who spent $1 million or more on artwork over the past two years, the report found. Yet those millennials make up just a third of wealthy individuals worldwide.

The study looked at art markets in Britain, Germany, Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong. It seemed to suggest that the future of art prices is secure at a time of political and economic concerns.

The Deloitte accounting service points out that millennials stand ready to gain wealth over the next few years. They are about to inherit a lot of money from aging parents. Their wealth could reach $24 trillion by 2020, Deloitte estimates.

The way millennials spend this money could really help the online market for art and the value of secondary works of art, Jervøe said. Last year, their spending helped raise the digital art market to $6 billion in sales.

Between 2016 and 2018, 93 percent of the millennials made purchases online. Over the three years, millennials spent almost $107,000, on average. Generation X – those between 38 and 52 years of age – spent nearly $500,000 but made fewer purchases.

I'm Susan Shand.

The Reuters news agency reported this story. Susan Shand adapted it for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

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Words in This Story

encourage – v. to make someone more determined, hopeful, or confident

asset – n. a thing one owns that has value

online adj. connected to or served through computers or a telecommunications system

accountingadj. involving a system for keeping business or financial records

inherit - v. to receive money or objects from a dead family member