Global online art and collectible sales platforms took a big leap forward last year as the online art market reached $2.6 billion, up from $1.6 billion in 2013, according to the 2015 edition of the Hiscox Online Art Trade Report.
These figures indicate that online art buying accounts for 4.8% of the estimated $55 billion value of the global art market.
The report estimated that based on the platforms’ growth trajectory, the online art market would be worth $6.3 billion in 2019.
Hiscox said that 49% of respondents in the new study had bought art and collectibles directly via an online art platform in 2014, up from 38% the year before.
The findings were based on responses from 519 international art buyers surveyed through the client mailing list of ArtTactic, a specialist art market analysis firm, during January and February; Twitter; Facebook; and Own Art’s mailing list.
According to the report, Heritage Auctions, a traditional player, became one of the world’s biggest online auctioneers last year, selling $357 million worth of art, up 42% from 2013.
Although emotional benefits continued as important incentives for buying art online, 63% of online buyers said they had been motivated by the return on investment.
Indeed, 75% of new buyers — those who had been buying art for less than three years — said they were prompted to buy art online by the value potential.
This suggested a strong trading mentality and the potential for online art marketplaces to succeed as transactional platforms, Hiscox said. At the same time, it raised questions about unrealistic expectations among new buyers, and what would happen if online markets failed to deliver attractive returns.