Collectors turn to online art sales as buyers quarantined

Irma Stern, ‘Watussi Chief’s Wife’ (1946) © Image Courtesy of Bonhams

LONDON: As the global Covid-19 pandemic continues to spread across the world, auction houses have revamped their online offering to accommodate collectors stuck at home.

While several houses have rescheduled their spring New York auctions, Christie’s have refreshed its Private Sales site to provide collectors with continued opportunities to bid and buy outside of the auction calendar.

The revamped site offers online viewings and immediate purchase options for aficionados of fine and decorative arts, jewellery and watches, with Christie’s Deputy Chief Marketing Officer Matthew Rubinger noting that “art and objects are an important source of enrichment and enjoyment for so many.”

“Our goal is to ensure our doors remain open from a digital standpoint, so that our audiences across the world can continue to engage with us, whether that means learning more about their favourite collecting category, seeing a work of art in a virtual viewing room, or bidding on an item through our trusted online sale platform,” he added in a statement.

The auction house has also revised its calendar of online sales in an effort to attract a broader range of collectors, some of whom often prefer the ease of bidding online. Online sales had already increased significantly in recent months, with Christie’s revealing that 41% of new buyers came online in 2019.

Also betting on online auctions in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, Sotheby’s fetched £1.1 million for its recent online Banksy sale, surpassing the pre-sale estimate of £672,000 to £1 million.