Online art market now worth an estimated $1.57bn

New research explores online art buying trends – what people are buying, how much they are spending and the barriers to purchase – and reveals growing confidence in buying art ‘sight unseen’

  • A future generation of art buyers is likely to make their first art purchase online, with almost 25% of 20 – 30 year olds surveyed saying they first bought art online without seeing the physical piece.
  • Although 39% of respondents said they find buying art online less intimidating than via a physical gallery or auction, having a bricks-and-mortar presence drives confidence – with 90% of online buyers purchasing from a physical space before buying online.
  • Limited edition prints are a popular entry point for online art buyers –55% of those surveyed had purchased a print directly via an online platform in the last 12 months.
  • 44% of buyers said they had spent more than £10,000 purchasing art and collectibles online so far, with 21% of this group saying they had spent in excess of £50,000.
  • Not seeing the physical object remains the biggest hurdle – 82% of those surveyed said the most difficult aspect of buying art online was not being able to physically inspect it.

To read the report in full press here

London, UK (28 April 2014) – New research released today by specialist insurer Hiscox reveals the increasing confidence with which today’s art buyers are approaching online art platforms.   Click-and-buy – which means online art buying platforms with an online presence only, rather than a physical space – is becoming an increasingly trusted channel for buying art, with as many as 40% of those surveyed having bought art and collectibles in this way.

The Hiscox Online Art Trade Report 2014 estimates the value of the online art market in 2013 to be around $1.57 billion and anticipates it will rise to $3.76 billion in 2018 – highlighting the opportunity for growth.  Based on these figures, online art buying accounts for 2.4% of the estimated value of the global art market, which in 2013 was $65 billlion [1].  In 2013, internet giant Amazon Art entered the market and there have been reports that eBay is planning a new, rival online art and collectibles platform[2].  Significant increased investment into platforms like Paddle8, Artsy and Artspace indicates continued confidence from investors and belief in the long-term potential of these businesses.

This report examined trends in buying art directly through online art selling platforms including Auctionata, Paddle8, 1stdibs, Artspace, Artsy, Artuner and Artfinder, as well as those which combine offline and online business such as Christie’s and Sotheby’s. It looked at what people were buying, for how much and what their main concerns were when buying in this way. It also asked which kinds of services could be offered in order to increase confidence among existing and potential buyers.

This year’s survey also revealed that while there is growing confidence in the online art market, it will always co-exist with traditional galleries and auction houses, with 56% responding they still prefer buying from a physical space and a much smaller 10% saying they prefer buying online.  The inability to inspect the physical object remains the biggest hurdle, with 82% saying this was the most difficult aspect of buying work online. However, this barrier could at least in part be alleviated by more detailed information, with condition reports and certificates of authenticity being cited by 94% and 84% of respondents respectively as ways to increase buyer confidence.

Robert Read, Head of Fine Art at Hiscox, explained: “Young collectors are looking for art work which is easy to buy and available at a wide range of prices. Online art platforms cater for all tastes and budgets, but are particularly effective for those just starting to collect – opening up the art market in a way that is hard to replicate in the real world.”

Although the price point at which first time buyers are entering the market is fairly low, with 42% saying they had spent under £1,000, amongst repeat buyers of art using online platforms, 45% are prepared to spend £5,000 or more.  Buyers are also generally very happy with their online buying experience, with 65% reporting they are extremely or very satisfied, and only 8% saying they were unhappy.

Robert Read added: “The online art market is rapidly evolving as businesses seek out a winning formula which appeals to collectors of all kinds, from those just starting out to those who are already established.  For traditional galleries and auction houses, there is an opportunity to build on what their brand has to offer in the real world and to translate this into online business, though it remains to be seen to what extent this happens and how it affects their businesses.”


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About The Hiscox Online Art Trade Report 2014

The Hiscox Online Art Trade Report 2014 is the second annual report of its kind.  It builds on last year’s report which examined the way collectors are buying all types of art ‘sight unseen’, both from traditional galleries and auction houses as well as online-only platforms.  This year’s report looked specifically at the trends associated with buying art directly through different types of online art selling platforms.  This includes those that exist physically as well as online (‘bricks and clicks’) and those art selling platforms which are online-only (‘click and buy’). It explores what people are buying, how much they are spending in this way and the barriers to purchase. It also asked art buyers what changes could be made, or services offered, to increase confidence among new and existing collectors.

The research was carried out by specialist art market analysis firm ArtTactic between December 2013 and February 2014.  The findings are based on responses from 506 international art buyers (surveyed through ArtTactic’s client mailing list, Twitter and Facebook).  Most of the survey respondents from last year participated in this year’s survey too, but the sample has been broadened by particularly focusing on the younger generation of art buyers (accounting for 42% of the overall sample).

About Hiscox

Hiscox, the international specialist insurer, is headquartered in Bermuda and listed on the London Stock Exchange (LSE:HSX). There are three main underwriting divisions in the Group - Hiscox London Market, Hiscox Re and Hiscox Retail (which includes Hiscox UK and Europe, Hiscox Guernsey, Hiscox USA and subsidiary brand, DirectAsia). Hiscox underwrites internationally traded, bigger ticket business and reinsurance through Hiscox Re and Hiscox London Market. Through its retail businesses in the UK, Europe and the US Hiscox offers a range of specialist insurance for professionals and business customers, as well as homeowners.

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About ArtTactic

ArtTactic is a London-based art market research and analysis firm that offers dynamic and responsive research and commentary on the fast-paced and ever-changing art market.  ArtTactic was founded in 2001 by Anders Petterson.  ArtTactic has developed methodologies and analytical frameworks for the art market often used by economists and people in the financial markets. ArtTactic provides a new dimension to art market analysis by combining both qualitative and quantitative research tools with an in-depth knowledge of how the art market works. ArtTactic’s weekly art market research and analysis can be accessed via




[1] Source: Size of the Global Art Market TEFAF report 2014, March 2014
[2] The Art Newspaper – 5/12/13,” Ebay to launch online art venture”, C.Burns

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