Record-Breaking Annual Online Art Sales in 2020

In 2020, online sales of artworks hit a record high.(Photo via WS News Publisher)

The pandemic caused more than 60% of art fairs to be canceled in 2020, prompting the rapid development of the online art market. The total online sales of art in 2020 broke a record, reaching $12.4 billion, which is double the total sales in 2019.

Basel, Switzerland (WS News Publisher) – The coronavirus pandemic and technological advancement have made online shopping one of the ways for people to shop. According to the “The Art Market 2021” report, total art online sales still reached a record of $12.4 billion. The share accounted for by online sales expanded from 9% of total sales by value in 2019 to 25% in 2020, the first time the share of e-commerce in the art market has exceeded that of general retail.

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.

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).

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.”

“Art Basel and UBS Global Art Market Report” provides the latest art market development report every year, analyzes the changes in the gallery business, auction market, global wealth, and art collections, and provides rich reference data for dealers and art lovers.

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