Online art market adds £1bn in a year

The idea that works of art would be sold online for substantial amounts of money seemed rather improbable a few years ago. Even at the turn of the century, few would ever have imagined that it would be a billion dollar market that is expected to grow and grow. Yet, as the latest study shows, all things point to a prosperous future. The web is now a big player.
A case in point are figures from the last 12 months. According to The Hiscox Online Art Trade Report 2015, between 2013 and 2014, the sale of online art went up by a billion to $2.64 billion (approximately £1.75 billion). As Robert Read, head of fine art at Hiscox, said in the introduction to the report, the numbers “speak for themselves”. We are clearly in the midst of a new age.
Analysis of data – this is the third study on online art – suggests that based on this “growth trajectory”, over the next four years some impressive digits will be added to the total sum. By 2019, the global online art market will be worth around £4.2 billion. Evidently, investors and collectors alike are and will be more comfortable than ever before with purchasing works via the internet.
“Online auctions continue to drive growth, with online only players such as Auctionata and Paddle8 reporting revenue increases of 148 per cent and 146 per cent respectively in 2014,” noted Mr Read. “However, the same growth pattern can also be seen amongst more traditional players: Heritage Auctions, for example, has become one of the biggest online auctioneers in the world, with $357 million worth of online sales in 2014.”
What then does the future hold? Principally, the online market will, no doubt, emerge from its niche categorisation and become a normal feature. There will be little by way of novelty with sales made online, except for when really substantial works of art go under the hammer for record amounts of money. That will be something of a watershed moment.
However, that’s some way off – not that much mind you, but not so immediate – and so, comparatively, the online art market does not yet command a big slice of the overall market. That belongs to the offline world. But, what will fuel its ascent is the fact that the next generation of investors and collectors will be that for whom the online world is all they have ever known. They will drive change.
Cadogan Tate, experts in fine art shipping, works with museums, galleries and artists to deliver secure art storage solutions.