Migration of Auctions to Online Art Market Yielding Unexpected Success

While the COVID-19 pandemic had brought disruptions to the art world, galleries simply went on and moved their auctions online and with unexpected success. Art fairs, as well have gone digital becoming fully aware that audiences are using technology and going online.

In 2019, Art Basel’s UBS Report showed sales of the online art market was only nine (9%) of the $64 billion of the global sales that transpired in the overall art market. Art Basel Director Marc Spiegler said that galleries have been forced to think of ways on how to digitally promote their online programs digitally, are now inclined to continue; by taking advantage of presenting studio visits with artists online, or by having web-based viewing rooms.

That being the case, Mr. Spiegel foresees that even if on-site galley visits return, galleries will continue to move forward with digital promotion.

Sotheby’s, Nicole Schloss, co-head of the New York contemporary art day auctions reported that with the expansion of viewing rooms at online galleries, they were able to drive traffic for live and online bidding at the Sotheby website.

Sotheby Moved Online with Results Going from Promising to Astounding

Prior to the COVID-19 lockdown in March, Sotheby’s 20th Century Design co-worldwide head Jodi Pollack, decided to move their mid-season sale online. The strategy yielded results beyond their expectation, garnering total sales of $4 million, the highest ever online sales achieved by 20th Century Design. Apparently, this provides the stimulus to migrate online, and accelerated promotions even amidst the COVID-19 crisis.

What ended up happening was better than they expected: the sale amounted to $4 million, the highest-ever total for an online sale of 20th-century design, aside from having retained patronage in the usual geographic location, comprising bidders from about 31 countries, the 20th Century Design auction had attracted 29 new first-time buyers, including some doing business with Sotheby’s for the first time.

Moving forward in April, Sotheby’ overall online sales took in some $36 million, which the company reported was more than double the amount they achieved as online sales in 2019.

Last May 15, Sotheby’s marked another milestone as their total online sales to date has surpassed the $100 million mark. This time, the record more than doubled any record set by any auction company for online sales.