As the Art World Goes Online, a Generation Gap Opens

Visitors to the 2019 Art Basel fair. The 2020 edition has been canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.Credit…Catherine Kohler/Sipa, via Shutterstock

LONDON — What with everything else that’s going on, international art collectors might seem like the last people we should worry about right now.

Yet this small group of wealthy individuals is the customer base that supports a $60 billion global industry, with an estimated 310,000 businesses employing about three million people, according to a report published this year by Art Basel and UBS. And that industry, like so many others, is hurting.

The coronavirus pandemic caused a near total shutdown of the art world as we know it in April and May. Auctions and art fairs were either postponed or converted into online-only events.

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