We do see a strong ongoing trend where most of our bidders do take part in the auction from the comfort of their homes or “on the go”, and less and less from our auction room. Looking at our last auction alone, 75% of the bids came from outside the auction room. Our clients have taken us up our many options for bidding and are now taking part from around the world via putting in bids in writing, by phone, via our broker or via live stream through our online bidding platform.
The internet of course has become a main tool in the communication between buyer and seller. Art can not only be presented and consumed wonderfully online, any item, work or artist can be searched for easily; therefore the art market is reaching new buyers all over the world. Artists and their works are being discovered thanks to social media and search engines, without any regional restrictions. The whole world is linked today, and in the last few years this has also become true for the art world in all its facets. It is not surprising then that in 2018 the whole online art buying market has reached a turnover of 3,75 billion dollar (Parnass: the online art market is just waking up, 10.07.2018).
As the outbreak of Covid-19 has forced us all to take certain measures, the art world had to reschedule dates. An exception being the fair Art Basel Hongkong, they went on with their planned dates by putting the whole Art fair online, all perfectly contact-less and accessible. 90% of their initial exhibitors joined this project.
This step was definitely worth it, as the sales proved. On the first day, Gagosian Gallery managed to sell seven out of its ten works in its online showroom. The Austrian gallerist Thaddaeus Ropac also sold well (Zeit online: Corona-crisis: the art market goes online, 23.3.2020).
However, this is not a new phenomenon and the success of the online art fair is not only down to the crisis around the Corona virus. This is demonstrated clearly by gallerist David Zwirner, who since 2017 is putting an emphasis on his online presence. The numbers don’t lie. In 2018 prices grew 159%, in 2019 growth already reached 400%. Auction house Ketterer is now putting up to 90% of its auctions online and sells well. It is above all the price segment between 10.000 € and 40.000 € that is especially sought after. (Zeit online: corona crisis: the art market goes online, 23.3.2020).
Art sales are not dependent anymore on buzzing auction rooms. The suspense of bidding, the adrenalin rush that kicks in when a bidding war initiates will happen all the same while on the phone or online, where a mouse click is enough to participate and watching the live stream gives you the frisson of just being there in the room.
You’re not missing out on anything as a buyer; except maybe the social event. As this is not possible in these uncertain times, we can assure our buyers that we will take a different approach, one that offers plenty of opportunities as well. The success of online showrooms has revealed that sales do not hinge on that in-person view of the works to be auctioned off. There are many examples in the art market that prove that the internet is not anymore – by far – a place where only inexpensive art can be old successfully.
Therefore, we can answer the question: “Can auctions without any bidders present in the room work” with a sound YES. We are looking ahead to our summer auction with great confidence and can guarantee you that your art is in the best and safest hands with us. Do you have any questions? We are happy to advise you by phone or by mail.