Transparency & New Ways of Buying Online
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Transparency & New Ways of Buying Online

Hiscox's Head of Fine Art and Private Clients discusses what a centralised marketplace could do for the art market.

October 11th, 2022
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In anticipation of our upcoming event Arcarta x Adapt, we sat down with our expert panel to discuss technological innovation in the art market.

Over the next few weeks we will be releasing these short Q&A's to give our network insight into each panelist's unique point of view. In this instalment we speak to Robert Read, Head of Fine Art and Private Client at Hiscox.

Collecting Online

When compiling our panel of experts it was incredibly important to represent a breadth of expertise at all stages of an artwork's journey. Robert's role as Head of Fine Art and Private Client and his supervision of Hiscox's annual Online Art Trade Report offers a unique perspective that spans not only collector wants, but also behaviour in an increasingly online marketplace. In anticipation for our upcoming panel discussion, we chatted with Robert about his hopes for the future of collecting online - full Q&A below.

Equilibrium and Transparency

In the Hiscox Online Trade Report you remarked on your hope for equilibrium between both the physical and online art market. From your point of view, what are the major challenges to making this balance a reality?

The main challenge is the level of investment required by the art trade to make buying art online an easy, well known and understood option.  At the moment there are lots of different platforms which is confusing to the buyer. Ideally, everyone would use a common platform making it easier and quicker to buy art online.

As someone who regularly works with High Net Worth Collectors, how can dealers inspire stronger buyer confidence when selling online?

It regularly comes up in our report that buyers would like more clarity around pricing  - is the published price the best price as well as the pricing history – but dealers are reluctant as that has not been how they have traditionally operated.  The other issue concerns provenance and dealers making a full disclosure, which in a notoriously opaque and lightly regulated market, has not been the norm.

You’ve expressed admiration at the ways in which the art market adapted to an online marketplace/digital world during COVID-19. What digital developments make you excited for the future of online sales moving forward?

As I said before I would love to see a common art platform where most of the art market is represented so that if I am looking to buy something I don’t have to share multiple platforms.  I also think the use of AI to recognise who has created a work of art would be great, especially for those with flaky memories like myself.

About Robert Read

Robert Read has spent the last 33 years involved in the insurance of art for private collectors, museums and the commercial sector.  He is also the buyer for the Hiscox Art collection which now has over a thousand works. He has been closely involved with various art sponsorship programmes that Hiscox have supported and oversees the annual Hiscox Online Art Trade Report.

About Arcarta x Adapt

Arcarta x Adapt is an in person event taking place November 3rd at Cromwell Place which aims to empower the art market with the tech of the future.

Assembling a group of experts at the cutting edge of their fields, this two part panel discussion and networking event will provide inspiration and insights, alongside the technological tools to make them a concrete reality.

To register interest click here, please note spots are on a first come first serve basis.

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Arcarta is a Due Diligence platform for the art market and is used by over 300 Art businesses internationally.

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