Silver Lining Despite Uncertainty
Despite the uncharted territory and unprecedented circumstances we currently find ourselves in, it may be a good time to consign at auction. If we are to identify the silver lining in this world of self-isolation, it is that the stay-at-home mandate has afforded both novice and experienced collectors the time and opportunity to focus on their areas of passion and interest.
Strong Results Across Auction Categories
This has accordingly increased their engagement with and participation in auctions, resulting in high sell-through rates and strong realized prices for our sales. During the past two months, Freeman’s has seen continued demand and competition for fresh-to-market works across collecting categories, particularly Design, Jewelry and Modern & Contemporary Art.
New Online Bidder Numbers Surge
Our most recent fine sales elicited the participation of a sizable number of new, online bidders from around the world and produced sale totals that surpassed expectations and exceeded pre-sale estimates. Our May 14 Modern & Contemporary Art auction is following the same trend, with many requests for condition reports and bids coming in well before the sale date.
Our Approach: Learn and Adapt
Instead of postponing or cancelling auctions, Freeman’s felt the best course of action was to evolve and adapt rapidly—moving sales to online formats and finding new ways to ensure that the buying experience for online bidders remained as seamless as possible.
Enhancing Our Online Experience
We added our auctions to additional online bidding platforms, providing convenience for buyers and increasing exposure for consignors. We launched a new eco-friendly and technology-driven digital catalogue that encourages exploration and immersion through the use of different media. We introduced pop-up, multi-departmental online auctions with lower price points that are more accessible to collectors who are dipping their toes into the art market for the first time.
Looking at the Numbers: Sell-Through Rates
Freeman’s success in the online space is not unique, as sales across the auction world have seen an increase in new first time buyers by 40-50% for recent sales. In March 2020, the overall sell-through rate for artworks sold at auction rose slightly to 66.8 percent, compared with March 2019, when 64.7 percent of works that hit the block found buyers. Freeman’s sell-through rates are consistently above this industry benchmark; for example, in our recent Design auction 96% of lots offered found buyers.
Moving Forward: The New Normal
We are proud that our ability to quickly adapt to new circumstances meant that our consignors were able to benefit from what has proven to be a resilient art market and that our buyers continued to be presented with the high quality objects they are seeking.
These times have undoubtedly been trying for everyone, but they have also afforded us the opportunity to re-evaluate how we are best able to support and serve our clients. We look forward to the future and invite you to be a part of our exciting, upcoming auction season for which we are actively accepting consignments.