Online sales have soared during the pandemic.

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Online-only art sales in the first eight months of this year at Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Phillips jumped 28% to $597m and more than half of respondents surveyed (56%) believe the art market’s move online will become permanent.

Sales at Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Phillips between January and August this year rose to $597m from $168m in the same period in previous year.

The data comes from The Hiscox Online Art Trade Report 2020: Part Two. Insurance firm Hiscox published the first part of the online art report in July.

“Watershed moment”

Robert Read, head of art and private clients at Hiscox, said: “COVID-19 has turbo-charged the online art market. Its transformation has been quicker and more successful than anyone would have imagined. Faced with no other option, the market has embraced that change, illustrating the creativity and guile that courses through the market’s veins.

“I have no doubt that there will be much pent-up demand to physically see art, as there is to eat out, go to concerts, see friends and all the rest, but I believe, and this report shows, that we have reached a watershed moment in the development of the online art market.”

The report also found that more than half (55%) of online art buyers surveyed purchased works through online auction platforms, up from 37% last year. A majority of millennials (53%) had bought art through online auctions, compared to 35% in 2019.

The findings are based on responses from 552 art buyers surveyed by ArtTactic during September 2020. The aim of this survey was to explore how online art buying behaviour has been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, so figures relate to the period between March and September 2020.

The data is taken from ArtTactic RawFacts Auction Review – Online-Only Auctions January to August 2020.

Read the full Hiscox Online Art Trade Report 2020 here.