Banksy’s prints and editions are the most lucrative investment on the market, what’s more is that as far as comparable assets go in the current landscape, Banksy’s sheer liquidity in this semi-post-COVID19 era is second to none.
The Banksy market has been booming since 2010, while Banksy prints and canvases have become a currency they’ve seen collectors and investors trading them as assets. Banksy’s print prices have gone up 11% since this time five years ago. The reduction in viable assets elsewhere – the more traditional tradable assets such as oil, gold, stocks and shares stunted by the global pandemic – have tempted investors to diversify.
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 top print sale to date is Girl With Balloon (Gold), that sold in March 2021 for £1.1 million at a Sotheby's online sale.
However, whilst Girl with Balloon was voted the nation’s favourite artwork, and seems to be the jewel in the crown for many collectors, there is no print in Banksy’s output that hasn’t reaped its owners reward in the last decade, and while some asset classes offer more than sheer capital growth, and some that benefit from spikes that outweigh the consistency of more stable assets, we’ve struggled to find one as good as Banksy prints and editions.
Here’s an outline of the value increase of Banksy’s entire signed prints catalogue over the last decade. The data uses both an average and variable rate of return on all signed prints sold through public auction to demonstrate the appreciation of value across the board.
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, according to Nationwide data between 2011 and 2020, doesn’t come close to the year on year consistent return that an investor in Banksy prints has seen in the last ten years. 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.
Will Dickson, Chief Investment Manager at P1 Investment Management gave us his insight on the property market in 2020: ‘with the Coronavirus pandemic ongoing, and the resulting freeze in any housing market activity, economic disruption and the likely rising levels of unemployment, there is significant uncertainty in property values, as with most asset classes.’
In any crisis there has always been gold, and predictably – whilst no one quite knows where it’s heading – its reputation as a steady and consistent asset in troubled times is proving true with nearly three times that of last year’s average investors buying in the last month, according to the BullionVault. P1 Investment Management commented that ‘gold has done particularly well so far this year as investors have fled to safe havens. Lower interest rates and the redeployment of quantitative easing by Central Banks have also increased the attractiveness of gold.’
But, in reality, gold has delivered investors just 1.8% on average since 2010. The trickier years, such as 2013, when the market value decreased by 21% and 2015 by 9% 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, its trajectory is upwardly steady and seems unaffected by the world around it.
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 above graph shows it is no match to the steady climb of the Banksy market in the last 10 years with recent significant dips in value since 2014. Current pricing is lower than ever.
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 are growing in value annually. There have been a few particular leaps in value over the last few years, the jump in 2018 saw Amazon Stocks rise suddenly 150% above the asset value of your average Banksy signed print. Since then, however, it has shown slight fluctuation and slowed right down.
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 FTSE 100 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 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 has helped prices outstrip even some of the best performers in the stock market.”
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 are considering a work by Banksy as a first investment our Banksy Buyer’s Guide includes some excellent tips to help you choose the right piece. You’ll find advice on how to accredit a Banksy, and highlight how the popularity of certain Banksy images, such as Girl With Balloon, can affect their price.
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.