Online auctions boost Sotheby’s Asia sales

Auctioneer Sotheby’s saw sales in Asia reach HK$7.2 billion ($932 million) in 2020, buoyed by a 440% increase in online auctions.

Auctioneer Sotheby’s saw online sales rise 44% in 2020

The auction house topped sales for international auctioneers in Asia for the fifth consecutive year and posted an 18% lead in market share over its closest competitor. Sotheby’s Asia also sold the three most expensive lots at Hong Kong auctions through 2020.

Sotheby’s Asia online sales grew 440% in 2020 compared to full-year 2019 results. In total, the auctioneer held 63 digital auctions this year, including its largest online spirits sale including more than 130 lots.

In 2020, 55% of lots went to online buyers and the auction house said its customers “demonstrated increased interest and confidence” in high profile online transactions.

Another digital engagement for Sotheby’s Asia came through its live auction format, which debuted in October. During four evening sales, Sotheby’s offered a live multi-camera feed and rich video content, which “generated unprecedented engagement” and attracted two million views.

Thanks to its 2020 auction, Sotheby’s recorded the highest average value of lots over the past five years, up 24% on 2019. Total sales for the year were also 1.5 times l low estimate and 56% of live auction lots sold at or above their high estimate.

Sotheby’s also found that almost 40% of all bidders and buyers through 2020 were new to the business, and more than 30% of bidders and buyers were under 40.

Kevin Ching, CEO of Sotheby’s Asia, said: “2020 has marked a year of unprecedented challenges and yet we are proud to have continued to deliver strong results that cement Sotheby’s market leadership position in Asia for five consecutive years.

“Our outstanding performance has been driven by resilient demand from Asian collectors, Sotheby’s unparalleled expertise and trusted client relationships and, above all, our relentless drive to innovate and adapt. Silent auctions, global live streaming to our robust online sales program, we are evolving to meet the needs of our customers in a rapidly changing world.

“Our transformations have laid a solid foundation that takes us into 2021, which promises to be an exciting year.”