Subversive and unpredictable, the elusive Banksy has captivated the art world and its market since his insurgent rise to fame. Though the street artist began his career by selling works at humble prices from car boots, market stalls, and limited releases at his dissident exhibitions, Banksy’s work has gone on to achieve seven-figure sums at auction. Since the veritable boom from 2019-2021, the Banksy market continues to mature in 2023. As we enter the fourth and final quarter of the year, we take a look back at the Banksy market over the past five-year period.
The correction which ensued in Banksy’s market in 2022 has continued throughout 2023. Our data shows Banksy’s market size and average value is returning to pre-pandemic levels. Rather than a cause for concern, the current climate of the Banksy market shows maturity.
After a phenomenal run throughout the pandemic years, 2022 and 2023 have seen Banksy’s market mature. After exceptional growth in the three years prior - particularly 2021 - the market continues to correct itself. In 2022, the Banksy market contracted in part due to the volume of sales (-40% YoY) and in part due to the reduction in ASP (-19% YoY). This trend has continued in 2023, with a decline in the volume of sales at the end of Q3 from 2022 by 38%%, and a reduction in ASP of 50% from the same period.
As we explored in our 5 Year Print Market Report at the start of the year, the overall market contraction has highlighted some interesting points. Between 2017-2022, the CAGR for the market - even at 50% of the value of 2021 - was still 787%. The ASP five year CAGR was 26% in this period, slightly higher than Andy Warhol. Back in December 2022, we posed the question of whether ASPs would stabilise in 2023. As we enter Q4 of 2023, ASPs continue to fall as the market recovers from its overheated condition in 2021. This year, activity has continued to slow with values adjusting, suggesting a stabilisation in the market.
Banksy’s Q1 2023 turnover for signed and unsigned prints and multiples has currently achieved a total turnover in sales of £2.7million (fees excluded) encompassing 74 transactions. This figure represents a 3% decrease compared to the average Q1 results observed over the past five years. In March we speculated that if Banksy's market maintains its current momentum with a quarterly sales volume increase of approximately 25%, and continues to sell at the Q1 2023 ASP of £36,493, we could anticipate a projected annual turnover of £15.5 million by the end of Q4. This projection indicates a positive shift from the previous year in 2022, marking the beginning of an upward trajectory.
Banksy's market is a captivating realm shaped by his cult-like status. Whether he achieves record-breaking sales or none at all, he consistently remains a focal point in market discussions. What sets Banksy apart is his ability to dictate the course of his market. Unlike many artists who rely on gallery representation, Banksy navigates his own path. Deciphering the pulse of his market involves tracing the strategic breadcrumbs he leaves. No better was this witnessed than in his meteoric Shred in 2018, where the artist set out to destroy his Girl With Balloon work which had just sold for £1 million. The masterful stunt was - ultimately - a failure for Banksy, as the half-destroyed work was resold three years later for £18.6 million, but catalysed a boom period in the street artist’s market.
In early February 2023 a new mural, titled Valentine's Day Mascara, surfaced in Margate, strategically unveiled on February 14th. Banksy's actions are meticulously orchestrated. A month later, he shared an open mic night on his Instagram story in Margate, playfully acknowledging the buzz surrounding his latest mural. It almost feels like Banksy is intentionally generating excitement around his own market, setting the stage for his upcoming Cut & Run exhibition that he announced not long later.
The nature of the Banksy market since his rise to acclaim can be tracked through auctions dedicated solely to the street artist. The first of these sales occurred in 2016 with a 100% sell-through rate, achieving a sales total (hammer) of £528,250 across just 38 lots at Forum Auctions in London. Banksy’s market continued to flourish after this first dedicated sale, but there were no other Banksy-only sales until October 2018 - following Banksy’s greatest stunt yet: the iconic shred of his Girl With Balloon work at Sotheby’s. Following this ultimate assault on the art world, 16 Banksy-only auctions have been hosted in Sotheby’s and Christie’s (alongside one auction hosted by Artcurial in Paris). These dedicated auctions signpost the boom period of the Banksy market, with several of these sales achieving seven-figures.
The most successful of these sales was Christie’s Banksy: I can’t believe you morons actually buy this sh*t in 2021. Despite its quippy title - informed by Banksy’s series of the same title - art collectors and investors were palpably willing to buy his work, even if the artist himself deems them ‘morons’. Across 47 lots (44 of which were sold), an exceptional sales total (hammer) of £3,569,000 proves the indomitable nature of the market at its height.
In 2022, four more Banksy-only auctions: three in the first half of the year, and one more in the latter. In Q1 and Q2, these three sales all exceeded presale low estimates and boasted sell-through rates in excess of 90%. In Q3 of 2022 however, the Banksy-only auction began to feel the effects of correction within the artist’s market. With 52% of lots either selling below presale estimate or failing to sell completely, this sale had a much lower sell-through rate of 72%. The sales total (hammer) of £1,006,400 fell 29% below low presale estimate - signalling the correction at play.
Likewise, this year has seen just two Banksy-only sales; both falling below low presale estimates. However, the most recent of these sales had a respectable 85% sell-through rate, with three unsold lots out of 21 and the other 18 lots falling within and reaching above estimate. Indeed, Banksy’s appeal as one of the world’s leading contemporary artists remains high as we enter the last quarter of 2023.
In the first quarter of 2023, Banksy prints flooded major auction houses, with the iconic Girl With Balloon leading the pack, selling for $195,000 (USD) at Julien's Auctions. This masterpiece's demand remains unyielding, evident in the 12 successful sales of signed and unsigned versions throughout the year, culminating in a high of £190,500 for a signed version at Sotheby's in Q3.
Notable print sales in Q2 included Banksy's Exclamation Rat at Sotheby's, fetching £279,400, and in the May Marquee evening sales Phillips' debuted Banksquiat, Boy And Dog In Stop & Search, which achieved a staggering $9,724,000 (USD), becoming the highlight of the sale. June brought excitement with Banksy's first public exhibition in 14 years, CUT & RUN, held at Glasgow's Gallery of Modern Art, showcasing a quarter-century of Banksy's stencils. This unique exhibit garnered tremendous success and is set to travel, with the destination to be determined by fan submissions via Banksy's website.
In the recent September sales, Sotheby's hosted their second Banksy-only auction, boasting a 76% sell-through rate and healthy sales for Banksy's unsigned prints. Christie's also featured coveted Banksy works, such as the highly sought-after Choose Your Weapon (CYW) series, with light orange and dark blue variants fetching £81,200 and £126,000 respectively, aligning with market estimates.
According to our data, these are the Banksy prints which realised the highest prices throughout 2023 to date. These works are incredibly covetable by collectors, primarily originating from Banksy’s icon portfolios:
Inspired by Banksy’s iconic Love Is In The Air series, Thrower (Grey) is a triptych which was issued in 2019 - depicting his renowned hooded figure launching a bouquet of flowers across three differently sized panels. The work shows bandana donning man frozen in the act of throwing a bunch of flowers - rather than a brick or a molotov cocktail - at an unseen target, and could be read as conveying a message of pacifism. The triptych was sold at Sotheby’s London in April 2023, where it realised £190,500.
Deemed the nation’s favourite artwork in 2017, Girl With Balloon holds a particularly special place in Banksy’s repertoire. Speaking to themes of childhood innocence and hope, the work pictures a young girl reaching for a red heart-shaped balloon. Inspired by one of Banksy’s most infamous public graffiti works, this is the work which launched Banksy to international acclaim and informed his most meteoric stunt: the shredding of the work at Sotheby’s in 2018. This signed iteration of the print was sold in September 2023 at Sotheby’s London, and also realised £190,500 - becoming one of the street artist’s highest print sales of the year.
Choose Your Weapon marked one of Banksy's initial print series, featuring 15 unique colour variations upon its initial release, with additional colourways and edition sizes introduced later on. As is the case with all Banksy series, variations in colourway - often from smaller edition sizes - are highly covetable among Banksy collectors. This gold variation was sold in February 2023 at Forum auctions, where it realised £172,500.
Once again, Girl With Balloon emerged as one of Banksy’s most valuable and covetable prints in 2023 - with the unsigned variation of the print realising £155,852 in March. From a much larger edition size of 600, the high value of the print is testament to collectors’ and investors’ fixation on this particular work from Banksy’s oeuvre.
Much like Thrower (Grey), this VIP variation of the triptych features gold gilt frames around each of the panels. Sold at a Sotheby’s online auction in March 2023, the work realised £152,400 - proving the preeminence of this unique approach to his Flower Thrower in the market.
Indeed, the current climate of the Banksy market is a far-cry from the overheated nature of 2019-2021. Rather than the quick-fire trades of this period, the market continues to mature as we enter Q4 2023. Adjustments in Banksy's prices reflect economic conditions intertwined with demand dynamics, creating a tapestry of complexity in his ever-evolving market. As we anticipate the five year anniversary of his unforgettable Shred, and the announcement of the next destination of the lauded Cut & Run exhibition, Banksy remains beloved by the art world and market he continually rejects.
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