Digital Sales in the Art World — A Recap

In a recent interview, I was asked if digital sales are still a thing in the art world. Actually, it is! Since maybe some of you aren’t so much into researching numbers, here are some quotes from the Art Market 2023 – a report by Art Basel & UBS.


It highlights a shift in the art market, with notable growth in e-commerce over the past three years. In 2020, due to pandemic restrictions, online sales skyrocketed to a record high of $12.4 billion, doubling from the previous year. The trend continued in 2021, reaching $13.3 billion, a 7% increase, as businesses maintained digital sales alongside returning live events.

However, 2022 saw a 17% decline in online-only sales to $11 billion, as art enthusiasts re-engaged with physical exhibitions and auctions, decreasing the share of pure e-commerce.

Yet, despite this decline, the value of online sales remains 85% higher than in 2019, indicating the lasting impact of digital transformation on the art market.

Also, the money invested in portals ensures that long-term strategies are implemented to create a positive ROI on them.


However, this does not apply generally. Smaller and mid-sized galleries seem to have abandoned their online efforts started during the pandemic. This may also be due to the fact that successfully operating online stores and platforms require long-term investments, which these galleries may not really be able to cope with.


Big and blue-chip galleries however can use their brand and standing, and of course their cashflows, to support online portals to keep them going and flourishing.


Hence, there are good and  bad examples of implementing digital strategies for galleries —that might be the topic of a future newsletter.


Meanwhile, we are also looking forward to seeing you in person in Basel!