The report states than an estimated $3.75bn changed hands in the online art market in 2016, a share of 8.4% of the entire market (up from 7.4% in 2015).
Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Heritage Auctions in particular achieved notable increases by adapting their strategies and together command almost a fifth of the entire online market. Christie’s, for example, posted an 84% jump in the value of its online-only sales, while Heritage reported that 41% of its auction sales are now conducted online.
The issue of art buyers remaining hesitant about transacting online remains a key obstacle in terms of expanding internet commerce in this sector however. The Hiscox report stated that the number of new online art buyers remained static for the third consecutive year. This was in spite of existing online art buyers acquiring even more art in the last 12 months than ever before.
The ‘key findings’ section of the report states that buyers’ main concerns about buying online “are currently focused around the lack of physical inspection and worries about the work’s condition, authenticity, and the seller’s reputation”.
Hiscox Report: In Numbers
Online art market sales in 2016 were estimated at $3.75bn, up 15% despite the overall art market only growing by 1.7% according this year’s TEFAF report.
The online share of the total art market for 2016, up from 7.4% in 2015.
Growth in Christie’s online-only auctions
Online sales reported by Heritage Auctions (up 1.3% from 2015).
The number of online art buyers who have bought more than a single artwork in the last 12 months increased to 65% in 2017, up from 63% in 2016.
In 2017, 49% of galleries that sell art online say they are doing so through a third-party online platform.
According to the latest survey, 79% of online art buyers spend less than $5000 per piece when buying art online, up from 78% in 2016 and 67% in 2015.
In the video here, head of art and private clients at Hiscox, Robert Read, and founder and managing director of ArtTactic, Anders Petterson, discuss the findings from this year's report.
The full Hiscox Online Art Trade Report can be viewed here.