As New Collectors Invest in Art, Online Art Sales See a Surge

A live sale at Auctionata broadcasts online to collectors. (Photo: Auctionata.com)

A live sale at Auctionata broadcasts online to collectors. (Photo: Auctionata.com) Courtesy Auctionata.com

Is the sky the limit for the online art market? A report released today by British art insurer Hiscox says yes. According to their research, the sector has grown 68 percent over the last year, from a $1.57 billion market value in 2013 to $2.64 billion in 2014. The report found that the online sector accounted for 4.8 percent of the near $55 billion global art market, and projects that value will increase to $6.3 billion by 2019.

“Physical gallery space and auction houses can no longer act in isolation; online channels and social media have an important part to play and, when combined, prove to be attractive,” said Robert Read, Hiscox’s head of Fine Art. “This is good news for sellers as well as collectors.”

Distinct buying patterns for online collectors emerged in the report. Close to half claimed they bought art online within the last year, compared with only 38 percent of buyers from last year. Online buying is popular with new collectors, likely due to the more affordable price points that seem to be the average. For 84 percent of collectors surveyed, they put their price point around $15,000, and 41 percent said their purchases cost less than $1,500 on average. And about 41 percent of those surveyed said they discovered an online auction house through social media.

The report found that investment is one of the largest factors in online art buying. About 63 percent of their survey pool cited “value potential” as motivation. Those numbers were even higher among new buyers, at 75 percent.

Hiscoux’s findings echo those of Art Economics founder Dr. Clare McAndrew, who writes the much-anticipated TEFAF Art Market Report released each year, but its totals not as high. Her 2015 report, released in March, pointed to online auction houses like Art.com, Artspace.com, and Gagosian.com, as some of the highest ranking among their peers. She estimated that online sales were responsible for close to 6 percent of the global art market.

This is the third year that Hiscox has released its Online Art Trade report, compiled with research from the art market analysis firm ArtTactic’s survey of 519 international art buyers.

As New Collectors Invest in Art, Online Art Sales See a Surge