The report found that online sales reached $10.8m in 2022 which accounts for 15.9% of all art sales.
The boom during the lockdown accelerated growth in online only sales with Hiscox estimating it increased the market’s value by around $5.4bn.
However the current economic headwinds could impact the art market. A survey of buyers found that 30% planned to cut back on art purchases over the coming year.
Robert Read, head of art and private clients at Hiscox, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic was a significant catalyst for the online market, boosting its value and size in a relatively short space of time. Although this level of growth was unsustainable it has proven extremely beneficial, instilling higher levels of trust and confidence amongst buyers. Some of the key barriers to entry have been broken down, converting previous online-skeptics to regular online buyers.
“The online art sector, like so many others, is facing into a potentially difficult period, but it does so in a more resilient state than it would have otherwise been. The challenge of a sluggish economy is already apparent in our findings, but the extent of the impact remains to be seen.”
The 2023 report also tracks 10 year trends and found the market for buying art digitally has swelled over that period with sales now five times the size they were in 2012 (from $1.6bn in 2012 to $10.8bn in 2022).
The volumes of collectors buying online has also increased, from 38% to 78% over the 10-year timeframe (see graph, top).
However, the report found online-only auction sales at the top auction houses (Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Phillips) were down in 2022 compared with the previous year. Sales fell 35% (from $1.32bn in 2021 to $898m in 2022).
Around 54% of the art buyers surveyed stated they had been buying from two or three online art platforms in the past 12 months with 25% buying from only one. Hiscox believes buyers are increasingly loyal to their preferred platforms.
The Hiscox Online Art Trade Report, now in its 10th year, uses research from art market analysis firm ArtTactic which held interviews in January and February 2023 with senior management and CEOs from 46 online art trade platforms and 569 art buyers. The estimated online sales figure of $10.8bn is taken from the Art Basel UBS – Art Market Report 2023.
Read the full report on insurance firm Hiscox website.