PARIS (AFP) - The global art market rose in value by 17 per cent to a record US$7 billion (S$8.7 billion) in the first half of 2014, according to new industry figures.
Artprice, a French company which tracks art sales worldwide, said that during the first six months of the year, art works sold at public auction totalled US$7.15 billion, up on US$6.11 billion for the same period in 2013.
"The art market is hungry," Thierry Ehrmann, Artprice's president and founder, told AFP.
"We have gone from 500,000 collectors in the post-war period to nearly 70 million 'art consumers' - art lovers and collectors - worldwide," he said.
Last year was a record year for art with sales worth US$12.17 billion following a drop in 2012 linked to a contraction in the Chinese market.
Ehrmann said museums and art centres, both public and private, were springing up all over the world, in particular in the Asia-Pacific region and to a lesser extent in South America and the Middle East.
The market was in "very good health," with growth being fuelled by this "museum industry" and also by investors, he said.
Against a background of financial volatility, works of art were proving particularly attractive not just to individuals but also to institutional investors and fund managers.
"The market is increasingly mature and liquid, offering yields of between 10 and 15 per cent per year for works over 100,000 euros," Ehrmann said. This equates to around S$170,000.
In the first half of 2014, the US topped the figures with US$2.38 billion of art sold, a jump of 28 per cent on a year ago and giving it a third share of the world art market.
China slipped to No. 2 after four years on top, with sales of US$1.97 billion, an increase of 6.9 per cent and giving it a market share of 27.7 percent.
Britain, meanwhile, had a quarter of the market with sales of US$1.8 billion, a rise of over 25 per cent.
France was at fourth place with sales of US$284 million and a market share of 3.9 per cent.
The international art market was increasingly focused on the US, China and Britain, with the three countries alone accounting for 86 per cent of all global sales, according to Ehrmann.