The insurance firm also predicts that the full year could record $13.5bn in sales if transactions continue at the same pace.
The findings are based on Hiscox Art Buying Survey which it conducted in the summer.
Robert Read, head of fine art at Hiscox, said: “The online art market has laid down some serious roots in the last 18 months with buyers embracing online platforms in a way that hadn’t seemed possible pre-Covid. The physical art market will never be replaced, but we can expect the online market to continue to grow until we see what, I hope, will be a happy equilibrium between the two.”
Hiscox said buyer confidence was the main trigger for the upsurge in online sales. It found in the first half of 2021, the average price paid in online-only lots at Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Phillips was $24,291 (almost triple that of 2019 – $8529).
It also found an estimated $3.5bn of NFT crypto art and collectables were sold from the beginning of January to the end of September 2021.