Are Online Auctions the Future of Art Sales?
On December 17 Christie’s Paris auction house wrapped up an entirely online auction. This is the first time Christie’s Paris has done.
On Thursday, December 17 Christie’s Paris auction house wrapped up an entirely online auction. This is the first time that Christie’s Paris has curated an online auction. The trend is growing and may be revolutionizing the industry. Many auctions are now available only online.
Christie’s got in early and first began online only auctions in 2011 seeing it as a way to reach more buyers. The house invested 50 million dollars in developing its online platforms for bidding. Online-only has grown from two auctions in 2011 to over 75 this year. According to a Christie’s spokesperson, the sales not only grow by number of sale but also by the number of lots in each sale. “Online allows us to be truly global in reaching our clients and new audiences,” she said. Christie’s now plans to increase the number of online auctions next year.
Christie’s main rival, Sotheby’s, followed suit and began offering live online bidding in April 2015 on an eBay channel. Online bidding at Sotheby’s rose 55 percent in the first half of 2015. Then, in October, the auction house started offering online-only auctions on technology start-up Artsy’s website and iPhone apps.
Despite the boom in online auctions, the days of traditional bidding are not over. When a work of art comes in to Christie’s, a decision is made about where to set it: live auction, online-only or private consignment, depending on which platform is likely to work best for a given piece. A consigners time-line also affects that decision. As a Christie’s spokesperson explained: “We create a calendar across all channels that will offer our clients what they are looking for when they are looking for it. Online will continue to be an important channel for auction sales, as will live auction and private sales.