Hashtag No-Filter: Instagram as a Platform for Art Dealers

Emma Fusco

Instagram has turned the art market on its head, especially for younger buyers.[1]  Matt Carey-Williams is a London-based deputy chairman for Europe and Asia at the Phillips auction house.[2]  By using Instagram as a marketing tool, art sellers are selling pieces for about 10 times its estimate all because the buyer had seen it on the auction house’s Instagram feed.[3]  For example, Sotheby’s sold a Fabergé silver, enamel and seed-pearl icon for £245,000, which is 10 times its estimate.[4]

Some say that the spike in prices is because the app allows users to understand the hearts and minds of collectors by creating a more intimate and friendly relationship because sellers are seen more as people rather than “a guy that sells paintings.”[5]

There is one area where Instagram has truly skyrocketed the sales platform: affordable collectibles.[6]  Mikki Towler is a dealer with 26 years in the business under her belt, specializing in antique kitchen items in Norfolk, England who averages two sales a day as a result of her Instagram feed.[7]  She has been so successful on Instagram that many people don’t ask the price of the collectible, “they just say, ‘I’ll have it.’”[8]