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Art Online Sales Double in 2020

by Lillian Santos
The coronavirus pandemic has reduced art exhibitions, but total art online sales have doubled against the trend. (Photo via CTP News)

Of the 365 global art fairs planned for 2020, 61% have been canceled. The lack of live events in the art market reduced total sales by 22%, but online art sales set a record, and sales doubled from 2019.

Basel, Switzerland (The CTP News) – The coronavirus pandemic has reduced people’s participation in art exhibitions, resulting in a sharp drop in art sales and online sales growing against the trend. According to the “The Art Market 2021” report, total online sales still reached a record $12.4 billion, twice the amount of online sales in 2019. Dealers at all levels showed significant increases in the online component of their sales, with the important advance by those in the $10 million-plus turnover segment to 47%.

The global art market has been hit hard. The art market sales of the three major art hubs- the U.S., the U.K., and Greater China declined by 10%-24%, with the U.S. experiencing the most significant decline. The U.S. still maintained its leading position, accounting for 42% of total global sales, and the U.K. and Greater China each accounted for 20%.

There are many reasons for the decline in art market sales, and 61% of art fairs are forced to cancel is one of the essential reasons. In the past, live art fairs were an essential event for art sales, attracting many collectors to visit and purchase. The sales share of the Art Fair in 2020 is only 22% of the seller’s total sales, with an additional 9% made through art fair online viewing rooms (OVRs).

The decrease in on-site art sales has caused art dealers to focus their business models on increasing online sales. The art auction market has also joined online auctions. Interestingly, most of the artworks are sold through online auctions, but the works of more than one million U.S. dollars are still mainly sold through offline auctions.

Economist Dr. Clare McAndrew said, “It was a year of unprecedented challenges but equally novel adaptations. The art market showed not just incredible resilience but also a remarkable drive to progress under really challenging circumstances.”

Although the art market in 2020 will not perform as well as in previous years, the change in sales methods will bring new opportunities for art-related industries. Online exhibitions increase the time for people to participate in art activities and will enhance the art market.

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