Art Market

Heritage Auctions brought in $41 million from online sales in a week.

Justin Kamp
May 5, 2020 4:18PM, via Art Market Monitor

Heritage Auctions headquarters in Dallas. Photo by SlabbedPurpleNurple, via Wikimedia Commons.

Dallas-based art and collectibles auction house Heritage Auctions brought in more than $41 million through its online sales held from April 20th to 27th, with 23 auctions attracting more than 16,000 bidders, a new record for the auction house. The categories offered ranged from rare U.S. coins and historical manuscripts to illustration and modern and contemporary art, achieving an overall sell-through rate of 97 percent for the period.

Jim Halperin, co-founder of Heritage Auctions, said in a press release:

What were once concerns that participation in the middle of a pandemic would hurt the auctions turned into a record-setting number of online bids by more than 16,000 clients all over the world. Almost all of these sales came from online bidding, and the final price total exceeded our pre-sale estimates by over 10 percent.

The design and contemporary auctions exceeded expectations to reach more than $2.6 million in sales, and rare manuscripts sales totaled around $1.1 million. By far the biggest category in terms of sales, though, was the rare coins category, with more than $33.6 million in sales across two days of auctions held in Dallas, relocated from the planned Chicago location. Heritage Auctions is the industry leader in terms of online auctions, according to economist Clare McAndrew’s “Art Market 2020” report, with sales of $483 million in 2019.

The surge in online sales is representative of the effects the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the secondary market. Last month, Sotheby’s saw its largest online sale total ever when the eighth edition of its Contemporary Curated sale in London brought in £5 million ($6.4 million), exceeding its pre-sale high estimate of £4.6 million ($5.7 million).

Sotheby’s, Christie’s, and Phillips are all currently holding online-only auctions in categories ranging from Old Masters and photography to cross-category thematic sales. Next month, all three will attempt to hold their first major evening sales in New York since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Justin Kamp
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Jenna Gribbon, Luncheon on the grass, a recurring dream, 2020. Jenna Gribbon, April studio, parting glance, 2021. Jenna Gribbon, Silver Tongue, 2019