Hiscox Online Art Trade Report 2023


Welcome to the 10th year that we have published an online art trade report. After the turbo charged Covid years the market has returned to a more sedate level of growth.

Looking back at the effects of Covid two things stand out. Firstly online buyers and sellers have become familiar and that familiarity has increased the trust in online platforms. Secondly the Covid boost in growth across the online art market has delayed the anticipated consolidation of the sector by effectively extending the lifespan of those that were struggling. That is likely to change in the next couple of years as a combination of a gloomy global economy and rising interest rates start to bite.

I hope you find the report informative and as always we welcome any feedback that you might have.

Robert Read
Head of Art and Private Clients
Hiscox UK

Key Findings

  • Online sales grow in 2022 – but more slowly: As the world returned to normality after the pandemic, so too did the art market, with buyers once again visiting auctions, exhibitions, and galleries in person as well as digitally. As a result, online art sales growth slowed in 2022 – as we had predicted in our previous report. Sales are estimated to be $10.8 billion, up 6% from $10.2 billion in 2021.
  • Tough economy starts to bite: 30% of all art buyers say they will buy less in the next 12 months, because they have less disposable income. This was higher among younger art buyers (32%) and new art buyers (35%).
  • Online-only auction sales show mixed results: Online-only auction sales at Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Phillips were down 32% to $898 million (from $1.32 billion in 2021) but comparable to 2020 at $938 million. Heritage Auction reported an 18% increase - from $903 million in 2021 to $1.07 billion in 2022.
  • Trust grew in online art market during pandemic: Although fewer people bought art online in 2022 (78% compared to 85% the previous year), the number was still considerably above pre-pandemic levels (44% in 2019). More than half (51%) of art buyers said that their confidence and interest in buying art online art had increased during the pandemic.
  • Consolidation more likely: 71% of the online platforms surveyed said they anticipated more M&A taking place in the next 12 months, compared to 64% who said the same in 2021.
  • Few concerns about online art’s carbon footprint: Most (54%) of online art buyers express little or no concern for the environmental impact of buying art online. Fewer than a third (32%) of all art buyers said they would be prepared to pay extra for a more sustainable option of buying art online.
  • More are mulling fractional ownership: Although only 9% of the art buyers surveyed said they had invested in a share in an artwork or collectible over the past 12 months, 61% said they were likely to do so over the next 12 months.
  • NFTs flop with traditional collectors: NFTs haven’t taken off among art buyers. One in five (20%) said they had bought an NFT, virtually unchanged from last year (19%). Even fewer (12%) are likely to buy an NFT in the coming 12 months (down from 27% in 2022).

10 years of the online art market in figures

This is the tenth year that we have been publishing the Hiscox Online Art Trade Report. Much has changed during that time. The market for buying art digitally has boomed, with sales now five times the size they were in 2012. It is now regarded as being a part of the conventional art market, with auction houses and galleries now routinely marketing and selling pieces over the internet.

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