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Article Author – Olyvia Kwok Decani

Almost two years since the start of Covid-19, the art market is making a steady recovery and gallery sales were up 10% in the first half of 2021 according to the Art Basel and UBS Global Art Report.

Millennials have played a crucial role in helping the art world recover post-pandemic. The same report found that millennial buyers spent the most in the first half of 2021 – almost double that of Gen X and nearly four times that of Boomers.

In this article, we will discuss how the millennial age is driving sales in the art market, with expert insights from art collector and gallery owner Olyvia Kwok Decani.

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How Covid-19 Impacted the Art Market

The art market was hit particularly hard by the pandemic and many professionals were forced to close their art galleries to visitors for many months. This had a significant impact on revenue and profits within the art sector.

The good news is, artists and galleries found innovative ways to overcome the challenges brought on by Covid-19 and virtual auctions became hugely popular during the pandemic. For instance, London’s annual art auction was able to go ahead during lockdown thanks to virtual auction portals. Sotheby’s also hosted an art auction in the last quarter of 2020 that saw famous contemporary pieces being sold for over £1,000,000.

The art market adapted well to the pandemic and thrived despite the uncertainties. This was largely thanks to digital platforms. According to Olyvia Kwok Decani: “The art world no longer relies solely on a physical location, but on multi-channel platforms. This has been totally accelerated by the pandemic which has forced this shift to digital.”

The Art Market Has Become Digitally Savvy

Digital platforms played an essential role in helping the art market stay afloat during the Covid-19 pandemic. Online selling platforms made it possible for artists and galleries to promote and sell their pieces remotely. This meant collectors could continue investing in art while complying with the social distancing restrictions.

Embracing tech platforms has also helped the art market attract millennials and lead to an increase in digital art. Olyvia Kwok Decani explains how: “Social media has been a significant marketing tool for artists and galleries when it comes to appealing to the millennial audience – who tend to consume art via digital.”

Why Millennials Are Becoming More Interested in Art

Olyvia Kwok Decani describes how: “More and more people are seeing art as enjoyable assets. So this top tier will be very strong. There are also tons of new millennial collectors buying art and spending hundreds of thousands to be ‘part of the gang’. But at the same time, they seem to be driven by their own desires to help artists during the COVID pandemic.”

Millennials are also savvy investors who are not afraid to sell artworks. A study by the US Trust found that millennials are twice more likely than boomers to consider art as a financial asset and unlike older generations, they use digital tools to produce and consume art.

Millennials are becoming more interested in the art market and gaining enjoyment from purchasing and collecting pieces. Olyvia Kwok Decani points out that the “Art Basel and UBS Global Art Market Report highlighted that 21% of contemporary art collectors will be under 40 in 2022, and HNW millennials spend six times more on art than boomers – so this top tier will be very strong.”

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Macklowe Collection Auction

In November 2021, the Macklowe Collection gained an impressive $676 million at auction at Sotheby’s, making it the most valuable sale in the company’s history. This auction was the biggest test of the high-end art market since the start of the pandemic.

The art world was relieved at the outcome of the highly anticipated auction, which clearly demonstrates that high-end auctions are still attracting the same level of interest and excitement.

Olyvia Kwok Decani predicts that: “Sales will be strong in the May 2022 auction for Macklowe. There’s a lot of new money, from everywhere – the young crypto billionaires, old school capital markets – all willing to pay top dollar for quality pieces”


Reports show that millennials are the fastest-growing segment of art collectors, buying and spending more than any other segment in the market. The art market is becoming more digital-savvy and this is encouraging younger generations to take an interest in art as an investment.

It is clear that millennials will play an important role in helping the art market recover post-pandemic and thrive in the digital age.

Luke Hickman is a printmaker and artist with over 15 years of experience. He studied at Norwich University, graduating with a BA (Hons) Fine Art, and has worked in both the commercial printing and digital marketing industries for over 7 years. Luke's work revolves around the idea of creating art that can illustrate a story with topics covering war, politics and history.

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