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Online art market - statistics & facts

The global online art market consists of buyers and sellers trading via the internet in works of art, antiques, digital artworks, and collectibles that are commonly associated with the arts and culture sector. Online transactions represented around a tenth of the global art market value in 2019, however, this changed drastically in the wake of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. While the total art market value dropped by nearly 14 billion U.S. dollars in 2020 over the previous year, total sales of the online art and antiques market roughly doubled, reaching over 12 billion U.S. dollars and accounting for almost a quarter of global sales.

Impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on the online art market

In 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.

The boom of the NFT art market

The online art market took a big leap forward in 2020. This growth is also expected in 2021, due to the boom of the non-fungible token (NFT) art market. NFTs are unique digital commodities stored in blockchain. They are used in the art market to prove the authenticity of digital works of art, as a file that is turned into an NFT becomes a unique asset. In this sense, NFT-based artworks – also defined as crypto art – can be sold as original pieces, even if their copies are shared online. In 2020, total sales involving an NFT in the art segment amounted to nearly 13 million U.S. dollars. This figure was already surmounted at the start of 2021, when Christie’s sold a digital collage by American artist Beeple for 69.3 million U.S. dollars, turning it into the most expensive non-fungible token sold worldwide to date.

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Auction houses

NFT market

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Global online art market

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Online art market - statistics & facts

The global online art market consists of buyers and sellers trading via the internet in works of art, antiques, digital artworks, and collectibles that are commonly associated with the arts and culture sector. Online transactions represented around a tenth of the global art market value in 2019, however, this changed drastically in the wake of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. While the total art market value dropped by nearly 14 billion U.S. dollars in 2020 over the previous year, total sales of the online art and antiques market roughly doubled, reaching over 12 billion U.S. dollars and accounting for almost a quarter of global sales.

Impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on the online art market

In 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.

The boom of the NFT art market

The online art market took a big leap forward in 2020. This growth is also expected in 2021, due to the boom of the non-fungible token (NFT) art market. NFTs are unique digital commodities stored in blockchain. They are used in the art market to prove the authenticity of digital works of art, as a file that is turned into an NFT becomes a unique asset. In this sense, NFT-based artworks – also defined as crypto art – can be sold as original pieces, even if their copies are shared online. In 2020, total sales involving an NFT in the art segment amounted to nearly 13 million U.S. dollars. This figure was already surmounted at the start of 2021, when Christie’s sold a digital collage by American artist Beeple for 69.3 million U.S. dollars, turning it into the most expensive non-fungible token sold worldwide to date.

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