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Hiscox Online Art Trade Report 2020: Part 1 – The Online Art Trade

  • Analyst: Anders Petterson, Lindsay Dewar, Julia Valletta
  • Pages: 38

We are delighted to announce the launch of the 8th annual Hiscox Online Art Trade Report 2020. Due to the Covid-19 crisis we have this year decided to launch the report in 3 parts, to ensure the findings remain relevant in this fast changing and fluid situation. This is Part 1: The Online Art Trade. 


Online art and collectible sales generated an estimated $4.82 billion in 2019 – up 4% from 2018. Growth in this market has steadily declined in recent years; from 24% in 2015, 12.5% in 2017 and 4% in 2019. The Hiscox Online Art Trade Report 2020 suggests that despite a year of subdued growth in 2019, the pandemic could be an important turning point for online sales.

Despite a slowdown in the overall global art market, 80% of online art platforms expect online sales to increase in the next 12 months;

The impact of Covid-19 appears to have accelerated online sales so far, with online-only auction sales by Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Phillips estimated to have generated $370 million in the first half of 2020, 436% higher than the same period in 2019;

When questioned about the longevity of these changes, 65% of online sales platforms said they expected the pandemic to have a permanent and transformative impact on the sector.

Consolidation is still widely expected, with 67% of platforms believing the online market will be dominated by a few global players within the next five years;

Some 63% expect existing art market operators such as galleries to emerge as the big online players while 48% expect an outsider (such as a start-up or tech giant) to disrupt the market;

Over half (56%) of online art platforms (down from 62% in 2019) believe the online art market will remain collecting-specific, with certain platforms dominating specific segments (such as photography, prints, furniture or design).