THEY ARE the most powerful players in the multimillion-pound world of art, organising exhibitions that attract thousands or selling works that make headline news - and many, including Charles Saatchi, are based in Britain.
But today, in the third annual list of the men and women who matter published by an art magazine, Britain appeared to be losing its grip with the millionaire collector Mr Saatchi falling from sixth to 17th place, having held the top spot in 2002.
Other British names, including the Turner Prize-winning artist Damien Hirst and gallery owners Jay Jopling, Victoria Miro, Maureen Paley and Sadie Coles, have all fallen in the rankings chosen by international critics and academics. Nicholas Serota, the director of the Tate galleries, claimed a place in the top 10 and there are some British "newcomers".
Anish Kapoor, another Turner Prize winner who stunned Americans this year with a giant new work, Cloud Gate, in Chicago, makes his first entry at number 73. Amanda Sharp and Matthew Slotover, founders of the Frieze art fair, which brought thousands of art- lovers and international dealers to London this month, leap in at 32.
This list, also known as the Power 100, in Art Magazine shows America retaining its dominance as the powerhouse of the art market, by virtue of the immense wealth of its collectors. But the list also suggests that as countries such as China stand up to be counted, Britain appears to be losing its influence.
Mr Saatchi topped the rankings when they were launched three years ago but is now replaced by the controversial American dealer Larry Gagosian, who made a major impact in London this year with a spectacular new gallery at King's Cross.
More controversially, Jack Vettriano, the self-taught Scottish artist shunned by major galleries but adored by the public, squeezes in at 100. But there is no space for Tracey Emin or curators such as Norman Rosenthal at the Royal Academy.
Rebecca Wilson, the Art Review's editor, said that Americans remained dominant, but the seats of influence were shifting. "There are countries that are entering the list in a bigger way than before. China is much more prominent than in the past, as is Germany."
The list was not an indicator of artists or dealers in long-term decline, she said, simply a pointer to what had been most exciting in the past year.
Mr Serota maintained third place by virtue of several excellent exhibitions, including Brancusi and Hopper, and initiatives such as encouraging leading artists to donate works. The Scandinavian- Danish artist Olafur Eliasson makes 29th place on the back of his giant sun installation that thrilled Tate Modern visitors last year.
By contrast, Mr Saatchi has proved less successful with his new gallery on the South Bank, which opened with the much criticised exhibition, New Blood. Yet he should not be written off. "He's still the highest ranked British collector. He's still buying and apparently buying more interesting work," said Ms Wilson. Artists on the list tend to be those with financial as well as artistic clout. Money alone will not suffice. Hirst's ranking has gone down because of the poor critical reaction to his collaboration with the photographer David Bailey, she said. …