New Report Reveals Behavior of Online Art Auction Users

“The Frugal Repast” by Pablo Picasso

Rolex is the brand that appears most frequently in online art, antique and collectible auction searches globally, notes a new data report. Dominant names in fine art are Picasso, Koons and Banksy.

The report, “Tomorrow –The View from Today” from auction market aggregator and search engine Barnebys, was prepared using data mined from 65 million lots sold at auction, as well as almost 16.4 million user sessions relating to nearly 5 million items coming up for sale.

The data is supplemented by survey material and anecdotal evidence from ongoing user contact. It differs from other art-market studies in two ways, says Barnebys. First, it relies largely on hard data rather than polling opinions, and second, it focuses on behavioral trends rather than on trying to measure the size and scope of the global art market.

In addition to Rolex, other luxury watch-and-jewelry brands frequently used in search terms include Cartier, Omega, Bulova, Tiffany and Patek Philippe.

“Categories like watches, classic cars, vintage clothes, jewels and other collectibles from the major fashion houses are becoming increasingly important for the future of the auction market,” says Pontus Silfverstolpe, Barnebys cofounder. “It was not long ago that the auction houses and dealers saw E-bay as their biggest threat, and there have been attempts to sell Picasso paintings and Rolex watches on E-bay. But in all honesty, who buys a Rolex or a Picasso on E-bay?”

Barnebys’ unique access to extensive data enables the company to better predict what will happen next and prioritize accordingly.

Studying the data has unearthed some unexpected discoveries. For example, people age 45 and older who dominate the global auction market are migrating to mobile phone use – away  from desktop computers – to access auctions at a faster rate than younger consumers.

However, people ages 18 to 24 have been returning to desktops from mobile usage over the past two years, possible resulting from the slow-moving rollout of superfast broadband in in the U.S. and the U.K. Connectivity, limited mobile data allowances, and the cost of mobile data also appear to be important factors in younger users reverting to desktops.

Otherwise, priorities for buyers have changed little over the past two years.

“There are no surprises here,” says Silfverstolpe. “To attract bids, websites need to be easy to use (especially for bidding, payment and delivery), reliable and trustworthy. Fee levels are less important, although there is a degree of price sensitivity.”

In addition, “Consigning items to auction houses has to be easy, the expertise of auction house specialists must be first class, and the way they present lots for sale online and in printed catalogs must be faultless.”

As the world’s leading auction search service (or aggregator), Barnebys features, at any given time, over a half-million items for sale through about 3,000 auction houses worldwide. Barnebys is fast closing in on the 1.5 million visitors a month mark. The firm employs people in Sweden, the U.K., France, Germany, Spain, China and the U.S. For a copy of the full Report email

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