In the past week due to coronavirus closures, the auction world has gone through big changes. Christie’s and Phillips announced that they will consolidate their marquee 20th century sales, and they will now take place at the end of June. Bonhams also announced it will postpone all auctions until after April 21st. Meanwhile, many auction houses have closed most of their locations worldwide in compliance with recommendations from local officials.
Now, Sotheby’s has revealed scheduling changes of its own. The house said on Friday that it would move a selection of sales across multiple collecting categories with offerings in contemporary art, photographs, prints and design planned for March and April online. The upcoming London contemporary curated sale, which offers works priced in the middle value segment by both emerging artists and postwar mainstays will take place on April 14th–21st — highlights from the auction have yet to be announced. As the digital sphere becomes the haven for the international art world’s transactional health, the announcement comes with an emphasis on the burgeoning strength of the online sale sector. The house reported that, so far this year, it has brought in $20 million through online sales.
In a statement, Sotheby’s CEO Charles Stewart said that the house had experienced an increase in funds brought in through private sales. Maintaining that the house has seen strong results its many March online sale so far, Stewart said, “Sotheby’s has invested heavily in technology to ensure that we have the very best digital tools in the marketplace—including our proprietary online sale platform—which we are using to benefit and support our clients.”
Keeping in line with the art market’s emphasis on maintaining a dynamic online presence, Sotheby’s continues expand its digital sales. Having only launched the online sales just four years ago, Sotheby’s brought in $250 million through digital auctions last year, according to the house’s self-reported numbers. That marks a 55 percent increase over the number the house reported one year earlier.