Impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on the online art marketIn 2020, most auctions and art fairs worldwide could not take place in-person, with governments implementing lockdowns and emergency restrictions to reduce the number of COVID-19 infections. As a result, auction houses strengthened their digital departments, promoting online sales and streaming events. In 2020, Sotheby’s auction house online sales reached 575 million U.S. dollars, more than doubling over 2019, while online-only sales of Christie’s rose year-on-year by over 260 percent.
Looking at the art dealer market, sales from online channels made up approximately 30 percent of total art dealer sales in 2020, with an additional nine percent of transactions coming from art fairs’ Online Viewing Rooms (OVRs). According to a December 2020 study, paintings were the most common fine art mediums bought online during the pandemic.