A confluence of new technologies promises to make authentication easier and increase sales among younger buyers Imagine bidding on a masterpiece by Leonardo da Vinci via a tap of your fingertips while lying in bed. A decade ago, this scenario would have sounded crazy to a lot of people, but there are plenty of tech companies keen to make it happen.

The art market is famously resistant to change, but even established art businesses are feeling the force of new technologies. High rents in art market centres are one reason, as mid-range galleries are increasingly interested in selling online.

There is also the need to cater to the next generation of collectors, many of whom are more comfortable browsing a desired collectible on their smartphone rather than walking in to a gallery.  In its 2017 report, art insurer Hiscox said the online art market grew by 15 per cent to US$3.75 billion in 2016. Investment in art industry start-ups reached US$505 million in 2015, a 300 per cent jump in two years, says Deloitte’s 2016 art market report.  It is not just new players doing business online.

Christie’s recorded an 86 per cent growth in online art sales in 2016. Photography and prints do well online, while expensive, one-off art pieces are still being auctioned off live. “We want to ensure that our online sales are well curated, as opposed to being a dumping ground of unwanted stock,” said Ben Clark, deputy chairman of Christie’s Asia.

“We always see online auctions as a supplement to, not replacement of, our live auctions.”  Brian Shipman, chief information officer at Heritage Auctions, has a similar view. Heritage Auctions recorded US$438.3 million in online sales in 2017, a 26 per cent increase from 2016. Read more from scmp.com…

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