Unfortunately, the endlessly busy worldwide star was wrapping up the North American leg of her world tour in Los Angeles and could not be there in person to accept.
Rounding up the awards for the evening, Adele also scooped the prize for song of the year for Hello.
Picking up the album award on her behalf, Robbie Williams said she was "the hardest-working mum in showbiz".
"Hello again, I'm so sorry I'm not there. I can't wait for Wembley and then I can't wait to get back to normal!"
Kicking off with feel-good The Sound from The 1975, there were some stunning vocal performances from Emeli Sandé, backed up by gospel-style singers on Breathing Underwater, a spine-tingling 7 Years from the disarmingly humble Dane, Lukas Graham, and a star-quality, gold-suited John Legend delivered the double smash hit All of Me/Love Me Now.
Speaking about her own plans, the Freedom singer added: "Next year I want to try and break out of the X Factor box a little bit and start to be a lot more adventurous - and I hope that other artists will want to do the same".
The band also won a prize for their cover of One Direction's That's What Makes You Beautiful - named best live performance on BBC Radio 1 this year.
To make up for their presence they made a video message saying "We just got told about winning this lovely BBC Artist of the Year award".
Adele, who recently won the Oscar for Skyfall, will join fellow music stars Beyonce Knowles, Lady Gaga and Amy Winehouse, when Madame Tussauds unveils a wax statue in her honour in London.
You can see the full list of winners here.
The life-size wax work of the 24-year-old will be revealed in June.