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.