Banksy Market Watch 2023

Donuts, Strawberry by Banksy  - MyArtBroker Donuts, Strawberry © Banksy 2009
Florence Whittaker

Florence Whittaker, Urban Art Specialist & Sales Director[email protected]

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Banksy

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Banksy's print market experienced significant growth in 2020 and 2021, with notable spikes in 2019 and 2020, rising by 106% and 250% respectively, accompanied by a 60% and 28% increase in sales volume. The momentum began with the viral 2018 Sotheby's Contemporary evening sale, featuring Banksy's 'self-destructing' Girl With Balloon, which achieved over £1 million, further stimulating his market. In this 2023 market report we take a retrospective view on Banksy's art market performance, most-investable prints in the current market landscape, market trends and anticipates future developments in 2024.

Discover Banksy's dominant presence in the 2023 art market in The Art Investment Report. Explore the most investable prints from Banksy's trending series on the MAB100 Print Market Index.

2023 IN REVIEW: THE ART INVESTMENT REPORT

Banksy’s 2023 print sales reveals a stark downturn in Banksy’s market. Following a period of remarkable growth that peaked in 2020, both the hammer prices and the volume of prints sold have experienced significant declines year-on-year (YoY). In particular, the first quarter of 2023 saw hammer prices fall to £2.7 million, a clear difference compared to the £10.1 million from the same period in 2020, while the volume of prints sold has also decreased, with only 74 prints sold in Q1 of 2023 compared to 141 in Q1 of 2021.

With varying opinions regarding Banksy’s current market status – some asserting that it’s thriving due to consistent sales volume, while others attribute market oversaturation to Banksy-only sales – there is a clear and observable process of recalibration taking place. In 2023, there was a substantial 57% YoY decline in net sales, accompanied by a 12% reduction in the number of prints sold. Moreover, the average selling price (ASP) has fallen by 31% in 2023, following a 21% decrease the previous year. This suggests a considerable cooling in Banksy’s print market, which could be attributed to several factors such as potential oversaturation, shifting economic conditions, or changing collector preferences.

Nonetheless, Banksy’s influence remains steadfast as he maintains control over his market. There is a palpable sense of anticipation for Banksy’s upcoming plans in 2024. While the enigmatic aura surrounding the artist’s identity is captivating, what truly matters are the messages conveyed through the artworks. The unwavering nature of the underlying messages within Banksy’s art and cult-like persona remains unshaken.

BANKSY TOP SALES & MARKET TRENDS

A notable trend observed in Banksy’s 2023 art market was the rise of unsigned works. Typically considered a more affordable option, these unsigned prints surprisingly garnered competitive prices, presenting attractive investment opportunities. In 2023, a total of 83 signed prints were sold at auction, amounting to a combined value of £4.9 million, while 127 unsigned prints were also sold, totalling £3.5 million in sales, with the latter contributing significantly to 42% of the total sales, surpassing the number of signed prints.

Unsigned Prints

In Q1 of 2023, Banksy prints entered major auction houses in abundance, with an unsigned version of the iconic Girl With Balloon (2004) leading the pack, selling for $195,000 (USD) in March. Demand for this universally popular work remained unyielding, evident in Q2 sales where four additional works of this print appeared and two additional prints in Q3.

In Q2 alone, Banksy’s market showed robust performance, featuring 38 unsigned artworks from 21 distinct series. What’s intriguing and vital to comprehend about Banksy’s unique market is the volume of numerous politically charged works, each belonging to different series, which have been consistently selling since their initial entry in the early 2000s. Although these works now command lower price points, they continue to demonstrate market activity.

It’s also noteworthy that auction houses have contributed to the saturation of the Banksy market. Sotheby’s, for instance, continues to host two Banksy auctions a year. In Q3 Sotheby’s Banksy-only sale achieved an 85% sell-through rate and healthy sales for unsigned prints.

In Q4, five unsigned Banksy prints found buyers, with the top-selling unsigned print being none other than Banksy’s iconic Love Is In The Air (Flower Thrower) (2003), which sold for £33,590 at SBI Art Auction in Tokyo, Japan. This reaffirmed the print’s popularity and Banksy’s international influence. Other notable sales of unsigned prints in Q4 included Flying Copper (2003) selling for £29,397, the highest selling price out of six sales in 2023. Grannies (2006) sold for £12,160, its second auction appearance in 2023 and Have A Nice Day (2003) sold for £10,400, the works seventh time auction appearance in 2023.

Signed Prints

Banksy’s Choose Your Weapon (CYW) (2010) trended throughout 2023. In Q1, CYW (gold) achieved £172,500 at Forum Auctions, marking only its second appearance at auction and ranking as Banksy’s top-performing signed print in Q1.

The value of this print continued to rise into Q2, with CYW (dark blue) selling for £139,700 at Sotheby’s in April, making its first time auction appearance. CYW (dark orange) also made a Q2 appearance at Forum Auctions in May, its first auction appearance in a decade, and set a new record for this colourway selling for £78,750.

Continuing the CYW trend, Q3 saw the sale of CYW (light orange) realising £88,200. Additional noteworthy sales of Banksy’s signed prints throughout 2023 include Gangsta Rat (AP lime green) (2004), which made its debut in Q2 and sold for £113,400 at Sotheby’s online sale, setting a benchmark for its future value due to its rarity. Girl With Balloon (2004) emerged in Q3 and became Banksy’s highest-selling signed print of the year, achieving £190,500.

In Q4, Trolley Hunters (colour) (2007) made its auction debut in 2023, selling for $35,560 (USD) at Sotheby’s New York. CND Soldiers (2005) made its second appearance in 2023, fetching $35,840 (USD) at Bonhams New York, surpassing its initial sale in Q1 of March 2023. Queen Victoria (2003) also had its first time auction appearance in 2023, selling for £28,164 at Bukowski’s in Sweden, and Monkey Queen (2003) made its first appearance since 2021, selling for $25,400 (USD) at Sotheby’s New York. These sales underscore the enduring appeal of Banksy’s artwork in the art market, amidst changing economic conditions and demand dynamics.

“It's not so much anarchism, it's about justice and who has the right to judge anyone else. I'm into working out who really is the good guys.”

TOP FIVE SELLING BANKSY PRINTS IN 2023

Even while his market matures, Banksy remains in the spotlight. Critics are concerned, but our close monitoring at MyArtBroker shows his works, both signed and unsigned, still command significant prices. Auction houses flooding the market with solo sales twice a year contribute to fluctuations, but overall, lower prices reflect economic conditions, not diminished demand.

1.

Thrower (Grey) - Signed

In 2019, Banksy released the Thrower (Grey) (2019) triptych, featuring his iconic, bandana wearing street bandit, poised to throw a bomb, transformed by Banksy into throwing a bouquet of flowers instead. This print is an evolution of his renowned street art piece, Love Is In The Air (Flower Thrower) (2003), originally created in response to the West Bank Wall construction, a highly controversial and contested structure, separating parts of Israel and the West Bank. Its relevance recently heightened, this work sold for £190,500 (with fees) in April, making it Banksy's top-selling print for 2023. We'll continue to monitor its value and potential appearances in 2024.

2.

Girl With Balloon - Signed

Banksy's renowned artwork, Girl With Balloon (2004) known for its striking girl reaching for a heart-shaped red balloon, became even more famous after his 2018 Sotheby's stunt, where the artwork shredded itself upon sale. The image exudes innocence and hope, resonating universally with collectors of all ages. Its popularity surged post-stunt, and in September, it sold for £190,500 (with fees) at Sotheby's Banksy-only auction, securing the second spot among Banksy's top-selling prints in 2023.

3.

Choose Your Weapon (gold) - signed

Choose Your Weapon (CYW), an iconic and rare print series, was initially released in 15 distinct colourways, with 14 editions limited to just 25 prints each. Among these, unique colourways including silver, lemon, dark blue, turquoise, and fluoro green are particularly sought after, often fetching the highest prices. Introduced to the secondary market in 2012, a couple of years after their 2010 release, initial sales barely surpassed £10,000 (with fees). Presently, these prints consistently sell for well over £100,000, with the highest recorded purchase exceeding £300,000. CYW (Gold) (2010) sold for £172,500 (with fees) in February, positioning third in Banksy's top-selling works.

4.

Girl With Balloon - unsigned

Banksy's renowned image of a young girl reaching for a heart balloon appears twice in his top-selling works of 2023. Girl With Balloon (2004), an unsigned version sold at Julien's auction in the United States for £155,852, just -18% short of the value paid for the signed version of this print securing 4th place in Banksy's top selling prints for 2023. This sale marked the highest price paid for an unsigned version of Girl With Balloon (red) among 10 sales in 2023. Although the print has a high edition number of 600, the frequent transactions underscore the oversaturation of Banksy's market. However, consistent sales near or above £100,000 indicate sustained demand for his iconic prints, even in unsigned versions.

5.

Thrower (Grey) VIP - signed

Thrower (Grey) VIP (2019) secured the fifth position among Banksy's top-selling prints in 2023, fetching £152,400 (with fees) in March. This artwork portrays the same figure in a backward baseball cap and a bandana, tossing a bouquet of flowers. The signed VIP edition, limited to 300, is split into three gold-framed panels. Remarkably rare in the market, this sale marked only its fourth appearance. The hammer price for this work has fluctuated, reaching up to £160,000. We will be closely observing its resurgence in 2024.

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