Popular art auction houses are establishing online-only auction platforms or giving precedence to the online branches of their auction houses; a movement catalysed by the post-millennial obsession with all things digital. Auction institutions such as Invaluable and John Pye highlight this growing trend, with the three hundred year old, Dorotheum in Vienna shifting 70 percent of their auctions this year to online only. Moreover, in the UK, Bruun Rasmussen have received their highest growth following a turn to online bidding.
For more than seventy years, Bruun Rasmussen has mediated between sellers and buyers; consequently, auctioning off a staggering 100,000 lots annually. Their traditional auctions types involve live auctions, occurring in their salesroom and online auctions, that occur on their website, selling auction lots according to the highest online bid.
Online Art Auctioning
Bruun Rasmussen’s introduction of direct auctioning, a different type of online art bidding, is an example of how rapidly digitalisation is changing the face of how auctions operate. Bruun Rasmussen’s adoption of direct and online art auctioning practices has enabled them into tap into the world of 24/7 auctioning.
Although, the key difference between their online auctioning and new, direct auctioning method is the added convenience for buyers and sellers. The process involves sellers photographing auction lots, which is then visible on Bruun Rasmussen’s website and after a final bidding price has been established, the seller delivers the item directly to the buyer. The secondary bonus of directly managing lots means lower buyer and seller fees.
Speaking about the new selling initiative, CEO of Bruun Rasmussen proclaimed:
“We are proud to offer a whole new sales channel on the auction market. Many objects of art are not sold at auction today, because it doesn’t make financial sense for people to sell their items via the existing sales platforms of the different auction houses, and it is hard to find any alternatives. With Direct Auction we provide a much wider audience with the chance to sell and buy art objects in an easy and safe way directly from their living rooms while still providing the well-known professional advice and valuation service of Bruun Rasmussen. We go from offering exclusivity for the few to quality for the many.”
Similarly, the world’s largest auction house in central Europe, the Dorotheum, has reaped the rewards of transitioning to digital auctioning. The bonuses of making the switch to digital auctioning included soaring lot purchases, with lots at their most recent, Old Masters Paintings auction going for as high as 265,000 Euros.
The Hiscox Online Art Trade Report recognised the main buying trends as the changing outlook among young buyers with 56% of buyers, under the age of 35, commenting they were more likely buy digitally; a drop of 7 percent from 63 percent in 2018.
Nonetheless, 52 percent of online art buyers stated they were more likely to purchase more art across the upcoming 12 months. Furthermore, an increase to 29 percent from 14 percent in 2018 was observed in millennial art buyers purchasing art digitally. The growing preference of purchasing art online was further accentuated by the finding that 29 percent of millennials had never purchased an artwork within the walls of a gallery, auction or an art fair.
Turning to online art auctions entirely may be the new future of auction houses and collectors, as the choice of buying art online becomes more popular and mainstream.