Banksy's print market experienced a remarkable surge in 2020 and 2021, following steady growth since 2018. The most significant spikes occurred in 2019 and 2020, with increases of 106% and 250%, respectively. Total sales volume also rose by 60% and 28% in these years. The pandemic played a pivotal role by driving demand for Banksy's works through online platforms during COVID-19 lockdown measures, expanding the reach of auction houses globally. This surge in demand followed the viral Sotheby's Contemporary evening sale in 2018, featuring Banksy's 'self-destructing' artwork, Girl With Balloon, which sold for over £1 million. While Banksy's 2022 market saw a decrease in sales value to £14.6 million from the 2021 high, it still surpasses the 2018 market size, marking his meteoric rise over the past five years.
Discover Banksy's unwavering presence in the 2023 art market, delving into his highest-selling prints from his iconic series. These works have elevated his art into a blue chip commercial brand, making him one of the most coveted artists in the industry. Download our latest market report, The Print Report: The Market's Most Wanted in 2023.
The Banksy market has experienced substantial growth since 2010, and Banksy's prints and canvases have transformed into a form of currency, with collectors and investors actively trading them as assets. Over the past five years, the average selling price of Banksy's prints has surged by an impressive 123%. The limitations in other traditional assets like oil, gold, stocks, and shares, caused by high interest rates, have enticed investors to seek diversification opportunities in alternative avenues, further contributing to the appeal and trading momentum within the Banksy market.
Early Banksy collectors were among the lucky few who either spotted the opportunity or simply fell for the (then relatively unheard of) Bristolian graffiti artist. 150 lucky buyers purchased Banksy’s signed print of Girl with Balloon in 2004 for just £150, an unsigned print cost just £74.99. A print from the same series, Girl with Balloon (2004) sold in Sotheby’s Banksy 2020 sale and received 24 bids, selling for five times its low estimate of £80,000, for £438,500. The seller told Sotheby’s she bought it for just £275.
In September 2020, Banksy’s Girl with Balloon – Colour AP (Purple) sold for £791,250 in Christie’s second offering of their online auction, Banksy: I can’t believe you morons actually buy this sh*t. Achieving over double its high estimate, the screenprint smashed the previous auction record held by a Banksy print, set by Girl with Balloon – Colour AP (Gold) in September 2019 for £395,250. Girl with Balloon – Colour AP (Purple) is of course based on Banksy’s original Girl With A Balloon murals and the painting that became Love Is In The Bin – but features a very rare purple heart balloon instead of the classic red version.
Banksy's Girl With Balloon (Gold) remains Banksy’s most expensive print, fetching £1.1 million during a March 2021 online auction at Sotheby's. Part of Banksy's genius lies in his ability to transform simple stencilled imagery into universally recognised motifs, a feat vividly exemplified by Girl With Balloon. This artwork garnered the title of the nation's favourite in a 2017 online poll.
Over the past decade, every print in Banksy's collection has demonstrated its worth as a rewarding investment. While some asset classes offer advantages beyond mere capital appreciation, and others may exhibit sporadic surges that surpass the consistency of more stable assets, Banksy's prints and editions have consistently stood out as an exceptionally appealing investment opportunity to many.
Read our most recent take on the top 10 most investable Banksy prints here.
Banksy's art market is an enthralling domain, profoundly influenced by his cult-like status. Whether he achieves record-breaking sales or none at all, Banksy consistently maintains a central position in market conversations. What truly sets Banksy apart is his unique ability to steer the course of his market, and he has continued to do so in 2023.
Year-to-date (YTD) in 2023, we've closely monitored all of Banksy's sales. An intriguing trend has emerged, illuminated by Sotheby’s most recent Banksy only sale, which indicated a robust demand for unsigned works. In 2021, the sale ratio for Banksy’s total sales of unsigned versus signed prints stood at 1.4. In 2022, this ratio increased to 1.5 in favour of unsigned prints, and in 2023, the ratio has risen substantially to 7.8. This dictates several things: while the volume of signed prints entering the market may be lower in these cases, it underscores that transactions are still taking place, and the demand for Banksy's works, even when unsigned, remains fervent.
Banksy's most sought-after series in the YTD, featuring unsigned works, is predictably led by Girl With Balloon, boasting an impressive tally of 11 successful sales. Additionally, several other prints have exhibited commendable performance in 2023. Bomb Love garnered nine total sales, Happy Chopper secured seven sales, while both Love is in The Air (Flower Thrower) and Laugh Now achieved five sales each. This underscores the escalating appeal of Banksy's unsigned prints, with all the mentioned works being unsigned and also holding positions on our MAB100 print index.
When assessing Banksy's print performance in comparison to other artists, it's enlightening to consider Andy Warhol, another artist who holds a significant presence on our MAB100 print index. These two artists provide valuable benchmarks as both have produced an extensive array of print works that consistently command high demand.
The index tracking these two markets sheds light on a well-established fact: Banksy's market experienced an explosive surge in 2020 followed by a period of contraction, whereas Warhol's market remains unparalleled and has displayed consistent growth. It's worth noting that while there is considerable focus on the downturn in Banksy's market, the demand for his works, especially unsigned prints, remains robust. Although Banksy's performance is lower than Warhol's, it still stands up to it, underscoring why these two artists dominate the MAB100 print index.
The statistics provided below are based on data from 2022. We expect that this information may have evolved by the conclusion of 2023. We will provide an updated analysis once this information has been revised.
Whilst property has long been billed as a passive investment for long-term stability, offering both capital and income growth with obvious ongoing potential in the form of rent, the financial return, as measure by the iShares UK Property UCIT ETF between 2009 and 2022, doesn’t come close to the return that an investor in Banksy prints has seen in the last ten years. Even with the correction that has occured in the Banksy market in 2022, the return over a 10 year period is still larger than that in property. It is also worth considering the comparison of the cost of storing a print – in the right hands it can cost as little as nothing – in contrast to the upkeep of any property portfolio.
In any crisis there has always been gold, and predictably – whilst no one quite knows where it’s heading – it has a reputation as a steady and consistent asset in troubled times.
But, in reality, gold has delivered investors just 0.5% on average since 2012. The trickier years, such as 2013, when the market value decreased by 28% and 2015 by 10.5% saw investors unwilling to sell when they wanted or needed. Certainly, if you’re looking for a safe place to sit out the storm, gold is still a good option, but if you’re in the business of making money the Banksy market offers a far better option. Following the oversaturation of the market in 2021 and its correction in 2022, the Banksy market continues to show greater returns over a ten year period and the market is currently at higher levels than before the pandemic.
The oil market can be very confusing to investors, with large price fluctuations sometimes occurring on a daily basis, often it is seen as a portfolio diversifier and a hedge against inflation but as the below graph shows it is no match to the climb of the Banksy market in the last 10 years with recent significant dips in value since 2014. Current pricing is at one of its lowest points.
Amazon, like Banksy, is disruptive, worldwide, and world-class. Recognition of this brand has grown over a similar timespan as Banksy’s reputation which makes it an interesting comparison.
As one might expect, given the domineering position of Amazon in the e-commerce market, and its strategy of acquiring brands in other markets, Amazon stocks have grown in value over the last 10 years. However, recently Amazon has had a turbulent period, with a great leap in value between 2019 and 2021, and a sudden fall below pre-pandemic levels in 2022. Banksy prints on the other hand are showing their value to still be above pre-pandemic levels, despite the fall in value since the markets oversaturation of 2021.
Historically, equities have outstripped safer investments, acting as apparent drivers in a portfolio. However, investment in shares always exposes you to the potential to make huge gains as much as it does to lose huge sums of money, which is why they’re often seen as the riskiest asset class. The data above shows data from the iShares UK Property UCITS ETF across the past ten years, it is easy to see the vast disparity in equities against Banksy print value in the last decade both in terms of value and relative stability since 2012.
If these figures aren’t convincing enough, we spoke to the experts at P1 Investment Management on the matter of investing in a Banksy against other leading asset classes, and this is what they had to say: “The meteoric rise of Banksy in 2020 has helped prices outstrip even some of the best performers in the stock market, despite the correction of 2022.”
Banksy’s cult status, heralded for his satirical subversive statements, skyrocketed after the shredding stunt of 2018, since then Gross Domestic Product, and multiple other Banksy ‘moments’ have driven interest in the artist and his work, he is consistent and innovative, a trait that will keep him at the forefront of the art world for many years to come.
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Around 70 print releases of Banksy works have been made in the past 19 years, totalling an estimated 30,000 prints altogether. It’s estimated that one-third of these prints have been signed by the artist himself, these signed pieces being in extremely high demand adds significant value to at least 10,000 pieces out there in the world right now.
With such extraordinary potential in the market, we are asked regularly where to start, and – quite shortly after – whether those with smaller budgets need not apply. As with any asset there is, of course, a more affordable end. Banksy produced prints in editions of 150, 600, 750, and 1,000, and a larger the print run normally means the lower the price, due to greater supply. The variant also allows investors to reach the market at a variety of more accessible price points, prints such as Flags are often chosen by those with slightly smaller budgets, but whilst Flags sold at Sotheby’s in March 2020 for £11,875, a recent sale at Bonhams in March 2022 saw a Flag (AP) realise £83,238. Who knows where this will be in another 2 years' time.
In 5 years' time, it's likely auction houses will have exhausted their remaining client base still willing to part with 15% plus fees to sell their prints and multiples – a category much more suitable to private online sales and thriving within it. We offer 0% as standard to sell any print in the artist markets we specialise in because we know we can find a suitable buyer for your work.
If you don’t know where best to go, and you need to look at options around choosing the right platform, gallery or auction house to buy your Banksy, read our guide here.
If you want to start a conversation around investing in a Banksy, or are ready to reap the rewards of a previously well-thought-out investment, then we are here to help. With a worldwide network of dealers, private collectors, galleries and independent specialists a dedicated art broker will ensure that your experience whether buying or selling Banksy work is unrivalled.
If you are considering a work by Banksy as an investment, take a look at our Banksy Market Watch, which provides an up-to-date overview of his top 10 most investable prints.
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