The Expert Guide To Buying Andy Warhol Prints

Grace Kelly (F. & S. II.305) by Andy Warhol - MyArtBrokerGrace Kelly (F. & S. II.305) © Andy Warhol 1972
Rebecca Marsham

Rebecca Marsham, Sales Director[email protected]

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So, you are considering purchasing an Andy Warhol print; navigating the Pop-Art market alone, knowing whether to make a purchase privately or at auction, buying a specific print, or building a collection can be tricky. But to get you started, we have put together the most essential factors to look out for when you’re landing an Andy Warhol.

Read MyArtBroker's Andy Warhol Investment Guide In 2024

A Buyer's Guide To Andy Warhol

Looking to sell an Andy Warhol print instead? Read our dedicated Andy Warhol Sellers Guide.

Why collect Andy Warhol?

Andy Warhol is the art world’s equivalent of the Beatles; his popularity continues to grow with time. Owning an original print by the artist, just like owning an original Andy Warhol painting, offers the opportunity to own, and perhaps display, a tangible piece of art history.

Declared widely to be the 'King of Pop Art', Andy Warhol's part in reshaping the course of art history of the 20th Century cannot be overstated: he overturned preconceptions of what constitutes artistic originality, beauty, and what should and shouldn't be painted. Holding a mirror up to a turning point in the history of capitalism—the rise in consumerism—Andy Warhol's art perfectly encapsulates the social atmosphere in which he was active—a culture that we still inhabit.

Listen to our MyArtBroker Talks: Collecting Andy Warhol podcast.

Are Andy Warhol prints a good investment?

One of the great misconceptions of Andy Warhol's print market is that his prolific production should put prospective buyers off. Actually, the opposite is true. The fact that his graphics depict a multitude of subjects, were produced in large editions, and are available in a wide range of prices, affords a diverse group of collectors an opportunity to own his work.

Paintings and prints by Warhol boomed in 2022; in fact, 2022 marked an exceptional year for the Pop Art market in its entirety. 35 years after his death, Warhol continues to break records: since the record-breaking sale—for $195 million—of Shot Sage Blue Marilyn in May 2022, Marilyn prints have been steadily increasing in value.

For the latest on the value of Warhol's print market: read our 2023 American Pop Print Report here.

Back in 2020, when other artists’ markets such as Banksy's were exploding, Warhol’s dipped. But it has proved only temporary. Always ahead of his time, series such as Endangered Species, Ladies & Gentlemen and Ads were arguably, until recently, under-appreciated. As works such as these began to receive overdue recognition, the growth in average sale price across Warhol’s portfolio rose exponentially over 2022. On the whole, Warhol's prints are steadily increasing in value as we enter 2023. Prints by the King of Pop represent some of the most desirable opportunities to invest in a thriving Pop-Art market.

To learn more about the highs and lows of the Pop-Art print market, download our 5-Year Market Report here

How much does an Andy Warhol print cost?

In 2022, signed limited edition Andy Warhol prints sold for anywhere between £2000 and £4,070,148 at auction. At the top end of this range, a Ten Marilyns print, the compiled 10 silkscreens, broke the record for most expensive Andy Warhol print sold at auction, to date, when it was offered by Christie’s in May 2022.

Prints can vary in value according to a number of factors: the edition size, colourway, subject matter, whether the print is after a popular Warhol painting, condition and quality. Thankfully, as a result of this variety, Warhol's print market is accessible to a variety of budgets.

Our soon to launch, dedicated print market index, MyPortfolio, will be able to offer the more nuanced and case-by-case answers demanded by this question; click here to find out more.

How do I know if an Andy Warhol print is authentic?

As Warhol prints have grown in price, so too have forgeries. Marilyns are the most faked Warhol prints. However, in recent years, we are seeing counterfeit prints from the Myths, Ads, and Endangered Species portfolios. Colour laser printers have become so sophisticated that it’s now relatively easy to reproduce a print that looks genuine. The saving grace is forgers often have difficulty adding the “accouterments” which are part of an authentic example: high-quality paper, signature, numbering, and a rubber stamp on the back granting permission for use of the image.

Another problem is that many additional prints from the above series were run off by the original publisher — without Warhol’s permission — that are virtually identical to the genuine examples. These fake serigraphs are harder to detect than the ones which were laser copied (but an authentication expert should know what to look for). The reason they are considered forgeries is because they weren’t authorised by Warhol. Authenticity always comes down to the artist’s intent.

Collectors would be smart to only acquire prints from established galleries, private dealers, online platforms, and auction houses. While even professionals can occasionally be fooled, they always stand behind what they sell. If you deal with less-established players (who won’t offer your money back if there’s an issue), then you’re on your own.

What are some of Warhol's most popular prints?

As a general rule, the most popular Andy Warhol prints are those associated with well-known paintings. As a result, works from the following portfolios—Marilyns, Campbell’s Soup Cans, Flowers, and Maos— are eternally in demand.

There are few print series more truly deserving of the word 'iconic' than Warhol's Marilyn Monroe series. Warhol's vibrant portraits of the legendary actress have become symbolic of 20th century pop culture and are therefore some of the most covetable works by the artist. Indeed, the Marilyns have become their own category. After the remarkable sale of Shot Sage Blue Marilyn in May, the complete Marilyn print set is more desirable than ever. We spoke to expert art authenticator Richard Polsky who has said of the Marilyns: “I would rather own a Marilyn silkscreen than many drawings and paintings by Warhol. That’s because they capture the essence of the artist’s concerns: celebrity, voyeurism, and spot-on commentary on the times. Interestingly, I’ve been told the three most desirable Marilyns are (numbers refer to Andy Warhol Print Catalogue Raisonné): No. 31 (pink), No. 24 (black and silver), No. 23 (turquoise). In my opinion, the best value is No. 23 (turquoise) because it relates to one of the great Marilyn canvases, Turquoise Marilyn (formerly owned by Stefan Edlis and sold to Steven Cohen for an alleged $80 million in 2007). My guess is that it will eventually exceed No. 31 and No. 24 in value.”

With Andy Warhol prints, there’s an obvious difference in quality between the most in-demand, quality works and everything else. However, there are plenty of high-quality Andy Warhol prints besides the most ‘iconic’ works that are worth collecting, including those that have more recently proven their popularity. After extensive data analysis, which looks at the last 5-years of Andy Warhol prints' auction performance, these are some of the prints that we think are worth looking out for in 2023.

For collectors and investors alike, Warhol's complete print sets are considered the nonpareil of his print portfolios. Since 2017, complete sets have increasingly driven Warhol's total sales value. In the space of one year alone, complete sets went from accounting for 43% of total sales value in 2021, to 50% in 2022.

  1. Soup Cans I and II: The Campbell's Soup can is emblematic of Warhol and the entire ethos of Pop Art. Something so mundane as a soup can, for Warhol, represented the force of consumerism in modern culture. As a complete set, we see the soup cans as though stacked on supermarket shelves. Between 2017-2022, the Campbell's Soup I (complete set) has grown in value by approximately 290% in the past five years while the Campbell's Soup II (complete set) has increased in value by approximately 310%. These works are enduring and visually striking, so it is no surprise that Campbell's Soup are the two most investable print sets in our Market Report.
  2. Ladies And Gentlemen: Ladies And Gentlemen is the largest of Warhol's print sets, and depicts 14 trans women and drag queens living in New York in 1975. The series is underscored by a lively application of collaged colour, which serves to mirror the eclectic personalities of his sitters. The sheer size of the set is perhaps one driver behind its increase in value of approx. 290% in the last five years. By collecting this set, you collect vibrant fragments of the queer subculture Warhol championed and immersed himself in.
  3. Kiku: Though Warhol is remembered for his celebrity portraiture and snapshots of American consumer culture, the Kiku series is a celebrated set of three still-life works. Each delicately coloured work in the series depicts a Chrysanthemum flower, or Kiku in Japanese. The series was commissioned by Fujio Watanuki, a proponent of the Japanese avant-garde, as an homage to Japanese visual culture. Despite the small scale of the set and size of its individual works, Kiku has undergone an increase in value of approximately 270% in the past five years.

Of course, when buying a print, the primary guiding factor should always be which artworks appeal to you, and which you will take most pride in owning.

To explore our full breakdown of the top 10 most investable Andy Warhol prints for 2023, read our Warhol Market Watch here.

Always condition check before investing in an original print

Common sense dictates that you never hang a silkscreen in direct sunlight — this will result in serious fading of colour. Yet, this advice was routinely ignored by owners of many of Warhol’s early prints from the 1960s and 1970s. Specifically, we continue to see Marilyns which are sun damaged. The sad thing is that faded prints are difficult to  restore (you often see attempts to re-screen early Roy Lichtenstein prints — but they never look quite right). In a way, it’s easy to see why so many Marilyns have condition issues. When the portfolio of ten was first released in 1967, it sold for only $500(!). Since they were of such low value, collectors would often frame them with cheap materials. Frequent problems include failing to use acid-free matboard, not employing acid-free hinges, and not bothering to use glass treated to block ultraviolet rays. We have even seen a pair of Marilyns which were slightly cut down to fit a frame.

Before purchasing a Warhol print, always inspect it. If you don’t know enough to know what you’re looking for, bring in a trusted expert or hire an art conservator to examine it. The latter will add to your costs, but it’s money well spent.

In general, serious print collectors are known to be pernickety. They are all sticklers for condition and terms like “pristine” and “mint” are commonplace. While you might think this is going overboard, they have the right idea. A major print, in superb condition, will always exponentially bring a higher price. In fact, there is a premium for Andy Warhol portfolios where the prints were never framed and come in the original box.

Once you have purchased any art print, it is crucial to keep it in tip-top condition. Find out more in our guide to restoring and caring for modern and contemporary prints.

Make informed decisions: Warhol's Catalogue Raisonné

It goes without saying that anyone serious about collecting Andy Warhol prints needs to purchase the Andy Warhol Print Catalogue Raisonné (a compendium of virtually every known Warhol print). Its editors, Frayda Feldman and Jorg Schellmann, did an amazing job of compiling illustrations and corresponding details. The only caveat is the colors of some of the illustrations are somewhat off. Also, be sure you buy the most up-to-date edition.

Though expensive, you might also wish to invest in the Andy Warhol Paintings Catalogue Raisonné. This will provide you with a greater understanding of the context in which the prints were created. It will also add to your enjoyment of his work.

Alternatively, find Warhol's Print Catalogue Raisonné in a library near you here.

If you are interested in learning more about the life of Andy Warhol, we highly recommend the following books: Popism by Andy Warhol and Pat Hackett, The Andy Warhol Diaries edited by Pat Hackett, Holy Terror by Bob Colacello, and Death and Disaster by Paul Alexander.

Where can I buy an Andy Warhol print in 2023?

Andy Warhol prints are available on the secondary market: they can be bought online, at auctions, and through private sales handled by a broker, such as MyArtBroker.

Starting out collecting art this way can seem intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. As we’ve seen above, whether you are a first-time buyer or a seasoned collector, one of the keys to starting to collect Andy Warhol art is buying from a trusted source. Always take expert guidance on the value, condition and provenance of a piece – something that a professional seller will be able to offer.

The most important thing is to buy from somewhere that makes the process comfortable and transparent – buying any print, including an Andy Warhol, is meant to be an exciting prospect, not something that makes you nervous!

Want to find Andy Warhol art for sale? Browse our Andy Warhol artworks.

If you’d like to find out more about sales formats, read our Guide to Auction versus Private Sale.

Why use MyArtBroker to find your first Andy Warhol?

At MyArtBroker we offer a safe and simple solution to buyers, connecting you directly with our expert brokers, who — if you are wishing to purchase a particular piece of Andy Warhol art to either start or grow your collection — can assist you in this search with our large network of collectors looking to buy and sell daily. Our brokers will also condition check and authenticate artworks, so you can have confidence before you buy.

A dedicated broker

MyArtBroker offers a secure space to connect you as a buyer with an expert broker— you can get to know our friendly specialists here.

Your personal broker will work with you to find the Andy Warhol you’re looking for at the price you’re willing to pay. Our experts will also condition check and authenticate artworks, so you can have confidence before you buy, as well as help arrange delivery.

We offer both the sense of trust and comfort that comes with meeting with a specialist personally, as well as the efficiency, transparency and ease of an online process.

Our network

Our global network consists of over 30,000 collectors buying and selling works daily, as well as dealers, collectors, galleries and independent experts globally that work with us to ensure we can offer the most covetable and authentic Andy Warhol works. Our website has 75,000 visitors every month, and we regularly publish pieces tracking the artist’s market performance, keep up to date with new works, auction results and news, as well as offer his updated biography and informative essays on all Andy Warhol editions.

MyArtBroker has access to a worldwide network of art collectors selling Andy Warhol artwork, so get in touch with us if you’re interested in buying an Andy Warhol print and we’ll talk you through the process.

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