How Collectors Are Buying Art in 2020, 6 Insights from the Maddox Gallery Survey
September 3, 2020

How Collectors Are Buying Art in 2020

6 Insights from the Maddox Gallery Survey


In 2020, COVID-19 has transformed the world as we know it—forcing galleries, luxury retailers and entertainment venues to temporarily close their doors, and moving our interactions online. We contacted more than 30,000 collectors and gallery visitors to understand how their behaviour has changed in the first six months of the global pandemic—from how much they’re buying, to the channels they’re using and artists they most want to acquire.


Collectors continue to be actively engaged in the market

Despite COVID-19, the collectors we surveyed continued to be passionate about art and acquiring new pieces: 52.83% were likely or very likely to buy art this year, while 25.64% were neither likely nor unlikely. A further 66.8% of respondents confirmed that they were interested in growing their collection in the next 12 months, with Banksy, The Connor Brothers, Harland Miller, and Keith Haring among the most sought-after names. Others were open to exploring new, up-and-coming artists, while some were eager to explore potential return on investment before committing.EVERY SAINT HAS A PAST. THE CONNOR BROTHERS, 2020


Buyers are seeking street art, pop art and photography

Our survey revealed a strong preference for certain genres: of the collectors surveyed, 66.5% are interested in street art, closely followed by pop art (61.42%) and photography (53%). Abstract art also has a strong following, with 45% of collectors interested in the genre.

Collectors are buying online—but value in-person encounters 

COVID-19 has pushed the art world—and other luxury industries—to embrace digital platforms, as physical events, exhibitions, and fairs have faced temporary closure. Collectors have adapted in response to this shift: 18.59% are ‘extremely comfortable’ buying online, while 42.21% are comfortable, but prefer to speak to an art advisor first. Despite this, in-person transactions remain important, with 39.2% preferring to buy in person or over the phone.



Buyers are drawing on a range of sources to find new artistic talent

When looking for new artists, collectors are using a wide range of channels—though visiting galleries remains the most popular route to discovering new talent, with 53.77% citing this as one of their go-to strategies. Other popular approaches were speaking to an art consultant (53.27%), visiting gallery websites (54.77%) and exploring social media (39.20%).

Return on investment is a key focus

Though collectors decide to buy for a variety of reasons, some carry more weight than others. For the vast majority (77.4%), an artwork’s investment potential is one of the most important considerations when making a purchase, with aesthetic factors, including the colour, design and subject closely following at 70.26%.  


Banksy is one of the most-collected artists

Of those surveyed, 19.67% of said that their collection featured one or more works by Banksy—further indicating the enduring popularity of the elusive artist, who used lockdown in the UK to create headline-grabbing original works including a bathroom overrun by rats, and, more recently, a ship which rescues migrants at sea. Other popular artists were Harland Miller, whose works had been purchased by 11.07% of collectors, and Damien Hirst, featured in 7.38% of collections.

Banksy Auction Results

Interested in discovering new artists, or taking your collection to the next level? Maddox Art Advisory offers insight into selecting and investing in art.



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