The Economist’s report on the art market includes this interesting commentary about online bidding. After pointing out that telephone bidding took two decades to win the favor of buyers who prized anonymity or didn’t want to travel to the sale room, Sarah Thornton and Fiammetta Rocco give these numbers:
In 2008, Christie’s says, £57m was bid or underbid using its online LIVE system, and just over a fifth of its lots were sold that way. More than a quarter of the online bidders were new to the auction house. The majority of its online shoppers are in America and Britain, followed by France, Italy and the Netherlands. Online bidding tends to be strongest for items that buyers can preview elsewhere, such as watches, jewellery, wine and photographic prints. The price for lots bought online last year averaged $6,000, though some people spend much more: in April 2008 a Stradivari violin, “The Penny”, was sold for $1.3m in New York to a previously unknown online bidder in Russia.
The World’s Biggest Sale Room (Economist)