There is an international market for all types of sacred art. It is bought and sold, sometimes for astronomical sums. The trade is transnational and it is not always fully legal. It should be said that not all sacred art on the market is either stolen or illicit, but because so much sacred art is either owned collectively (and thus ownership cannot be transferred) or is considered cultural property of its country of origin, the ownership history of religious pieces on the market should be carefully scrutinized.
The appeal of sacred art to buyers is complex. Some buy religious art because of personal devotion. Other out of an interest in the artistic qualities of these pieces. Still others consider religious pieces to be decorative elements for their homes. Still others consider these pieces to be investments. The market for various types of sacred art is understudied academically.