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The global online art market recorded sales up 9.8% to $4.64bn (£3.5bn) in 2018, according to Hiscox Online Art Trade Report 2019.

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Although the overall growth rate is lower than the 2017 figure of 12%, Hiscox, an insurance firm well known in the art market, is maintaining its forecast for future growth of 15% a year. “Based on this growth trajectory, we could expect the online art market to be worth $9.32 billion by 2024,” the firm states.

The report contains overall market data for the worldwide online art business as well as surveys of art market buyers, dealers, galleries and online art market platforms.

Some of the key findings this year include:

  • US auction house Heritage sold $487 million online last year – more than Christie’s ($250m) and Sotheby’s ($200m) combined
  • 71% of the online art platforms said they expect more consolidation within their sector in the next 12 months, with competition intensifying in particular among online gallery platforms
  • 77% of survey respondents feel positively about the online art market in the coming 12 months
  • 65% of art buyers choose Instagram as their favoured social media platform for tasks such as discovering and following new artists, up from 63%
  • 29% of millennial art buyers said they preferred buying art online as opposed to offline, up from 14%
  • 23% of millennials said they had never bought an art work in a physical space (e.g. gallery, auction or art fair) before buying art online, up from 18% in 2018
  • The art world’s adoption of blockchain remains slow – for now

Methodology

The survey findings are based on responses from 706 art buyers surveyed through ArtTactic’s contact mailing list (down from 831 the previous year, mainly due to the new GDPR regulations that reduced the overall sample).

The central focus of the survey is around fine art, as well as the online buying habits of other collectables.

The survey also included:

  • 128 galleries and dealers (60% in contemporary art, and the remainder were dealers in different collectable areas such as photography, Modern and Impressionist art, design, furniture, decorative art, antiquities, and old masters).

The large majority of these galleries were small to mid-tier galleries.

  • 42 interviews and online surveys with senior managers of art online art platforms