According to the Hiscox Online Art Trade Report, the most comprehensive annual analyses of the online art market, digital art sales accounted for US $3.75 billion in 2016, 8.4 per cent of the total global art market and a 15 per cent increase over 2015.
Nearly 20 per cent of online sales in 2016 came from just three auction houses, Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Heritage Auctions, which together generated US $720 million in online auction sales. Heritage Auctions conducted more than 40 per cent of all of their auctions online, generating US $348.5 million in sales. Most other online transactions are coming from consolidated sites, including MasterArt.com, as well as Artnet, which offer buyers a chance to buy a wide variety of art online from multiple galleries, and sites like IdeelArt, which consolidate artists of a particular style, such as abstract art, who are represented by multiple brick and mortar galleries.
Trends continue toward lower-priced art, with 79 per cent of all online art sales in 2017 being valued at less than US $5,000. Most growth in 2017 came from existing online art buyers, as the market is still struggling to convert buyers who remain unsure about digital art transactions. Concerns voiced by the non-committed include the need for personal contact, issues like authenticity, condition and returns, and worries about seller reputation.