- more than eight out of ten (82%) NFT buyers said that their purchase was more about the money than the art
- nearly two thirds of art buyers surveyed have bought art or collectibles online as the traditional and online art markets converge
London, UK (26th April 2022): Non fungible tokens (NFTs) have firmly planted their digital roots in the art world, with over a quarter (27%) of art buyers likely to invest in an NFT in 2022 according to the latest Hiscox Online Art Trade Report .
The research also reveals that more than eight out of ten (82%) NFT buyers said that it was more about the money than the art, with 95% of those spending $25,000 on NFTs in the past 12 months citing investment returns as the key reason for their NFT purchase. Male buyers are far more likely to buy NFTs for investment reasons, with 96% of male buyers driven by investment reasons compared to 67% of female buyers.
In addition, the report findings point to growing signs of convergence between the traditional and online art markets. Nearly two thirds of art buyers surveyed have bought art or collectibles online – an increase on the previous two years – while more than eight out of ten existing online art buyers have bought pieces online in the past 12 months, up from 67% in 2020. Online art sales rose from $4.82 billion in 2019 to an estimated $7.89 billion in 2020, and projected online art sales for 2021 are estimated to have reached $13.5 billion. The majority of art buyers (84%) now believe the digital shift in the art market will become permanent; up from 51% in 2020.
Robert Read, Head of Art and Private Client at global specialist insurer, Hiscox, commented: “Online art sales continue to grow and are no longer snapping at the heels of the art establishment but are now very much part of it – it is a real sign of market maturity. The same cannot be said of NFTs which remain in the “wild west” phase of their development – it is still very much a speculator’s market so we can expect many more ups and downs.”
NFT buying habits
- NFT gold rush - eight out of ten (82%) NFT buyers said that it was more about the money than the art, with 95% of those spending $25,000 on NFTs in the past 12 months and citing investment returns as the key reason for their NFT purchase.
- Male buyers more motivated by potential investment returns than female buyers: 96% of male buyers bought NFT art for investment reasons, while 58% were driven by their passion for digital art. Far fewer female buyers bought NFT art primarily for investment reasons, at 67%, while 76% bought because of their passion for art and particularly digital art.
- Male-dominated market, but more female buyers are likely this year: Less than a fifth (16%) of female art buyers surveyed said they had bought one or more NFTs, compared to 22% of male buyers who said the same. But 27% of female art buyers said they would buy an NFT in the next 12 months, closing the gap with male buyers (28%).
- Testing the water: Among those art buyers surveyed who had bought NFTs in the past 12 months, 35% had bought NFTs with a total value of less than $1,000, while 37% had spent up to $5,000 on NFTs; only 15% had spent more than $5,000 so far on NFTs.
- The art and NFT markets begin to come together: There are signs of increasing convergence between the traditional art market and parts of the NFT market. Over a quarter (27%) of all art buyers surveyed said they are likely to buy an NFT in the coming 12 months.
Online art buying habits
- Art buying habits – the change is permanent: In 2020, 51% of art buyers said they thought the changes in how they bought art were here to stay. Fast forward 18 months, and 84% now believe the digital shift in the art market will become permanent.
- Growth rates race into high double-digits: Online art sales rocketed during the pandemic, from 4.8% in 2019 to 64% in 2020. Further strong sales growth of 72% for the first half of 2021 reported by online art sales platforms gave us projected online sales for 2021 of $13.5 billion. As the online art market matures and audiences return to in-person auctions, the growth is likely to normalise.
- Auction houses see strong online growth: Heritage Auctions reported $903 million in online sales in 2021, up 79% from 2020. Phillips saw online-only auction sales grow by 70% last year, while Christie’s posted 41% online-only sales growth in 2021. Sotheby’s online only sales grew 22% in 2021, after phenomenal growth in 2020 (824%). Despite slower growth in 2021, Sotheby’s accounted for a 65.8% share of the online only sales among the three auction houses last year.
- Buyer confidence rising: Over half (53%) of online art buyers surveyed in 2022 said that the pandemic and the art market’s migration online have increased their confidence in buying art and collectibles online, up from 42% in 2020.
- New generation of art buyers: Three in ten (31%) young collectors bought their first ever artwork online, up from 14% in 2020. Nearly half (47%) of new art buyers (those who started buying art less than three years ago) made their first art purchase online, compared to 30% in 2020. The online art market has become an entrance into the art world for new art buyers, many of whom have never ventured into a gallery or auction house.
- New media art sales: Of all of the art buyers surveyed, 41% said they had bought new media art online in 2021, up from 17% in 2020. This corresponds with the rapid ascent of new media art issued as NFTs.
You can read the Hiscox Online Art Trade Report: Part Two, including key insights and our detailed look at the online customer journey by visiting: https://www.hiscox.co.uk/online-art-trade-report.
For further information please contact:
Carmel McCarthy 07769 280903
Notes to editors
About the Hiscox Group
Hiscox is a global specialist insurer, headquartered in Bermuda and listed on the London Stock Exchange (LSE:HSX). Our ambition is to be a respected specialist insurer with a diverse portfolio by product and geography. We believe that building balance between catastrophe-exposed business and less volatile local specialty business gives us opportunities for profitable growth throughout the insurance cycle.
The Hiscox Group employs over 3,000 people in 14 countries, and has customers worldwide. Through the retail businesses in the UK, Europe, Asia and the USA, we offer a range of specialist insurance for professionals and business customers as well as homeowners. Internationally traded, bigger ticket business and reinsurance is underwritten through Hiscox London Market and Hiscox Re & ILS.
Our values define our business, with a focus on people, courage, ownership and integrity. We pride ourselves on being true to our word and our award-winning claims service is testament to that. For more information, visit www.hiscoxgroup.com.
 Source: Hiscox Online Art Trade Report 2021 – Part 1
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