The Expert Guide To Buying A Banksy

Written by - Joe Syer
Golf Sale by BanksyGolf Sale © Banksy 2003

If you are in the market to buy a Banksy print, here are a few pieces of advice before you start your search, to make sure you find the right piece at the right price.

Looking to sell a Banksy print? Read our dedicated Banksy Sellers Guide.

In this buyer’s guide for you budding Banksy collectors, we have assembled all our top advice on starting and growing a collection. To find out more about the latest trends in the ever-changing market, download our free Banksy Market Trend Report.

About Banksy

Originally from Bristol, Banksy’s instantly recognisable street art first appeared in the late 1990s. His clever mix of popular and political imagery, along with a strong tongue-in-cheek message, quickly gained him the attention of the media and the public – not to mention the art world, including gallerists, museums and prestigious collectors alike.

With a constant finger on the pulse of current events, such as the refugee crisis, the Gaza conflict, Brexit and the coronavirus pandemic, as well as universal issues such as homelessness, his audience can always count on Banksy to issue public artistic commentary and stir controversy.

Nola (white rain) by BanksyNola © Banksy 2008

Starting a Banksy collection

Whether it is through subversively incorporating a mocking message into his art, or shredding his own work right after it sold for £1M at auction, Banksy has consistently poked fun at the very art world who has crowned him both their enfant terrible and golden boy.

Banksy’s continuous stunts, pranks, political commentaries and record prices have made him one of the most iconic and sought-after artists since the early 2000s. Thankfully, there are more options than ever to buy a Banksy from a range of places and prices. While news-worthy original paintings can sell for millions at auction, there are also more affordable limited-edition Banksy prints available to budding collectors.

Navigating the Banksy market, 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 a Banksy.

Is Banksy art a good investment?

Ever since Banksy broke into the mainstream world of commercial art in the early 2000s the demand for his work has soared year on year. By 2019, he had made it to the top of the pyramid, outrunning Picasso, Da Vinci and Monet as Great Britain’s favourite artist according to a popular vote.

The artist has carved himself a huge secondary market of signed and unsigned prints. As he hasn’t released any new prints since Sale Ends V2 in 2017, and before that Choose Your Weapon in 2010, supply is becoming rarer but demand is still rising.

Sale Ends by BanksSale Ends © Banksy 2006

Which Banksy print should I go for?

Certain pieces sell better than others, based on rarity and appeal. The most sought-after Banksy editions are often those directly inspired by or based on his graffiti pieces.

Girl With Balloon, voted the UK’s favourite artwork in 2017, is one of Banksy’s most iconic and sought-after works. Stencilled murals have cropped up on walls from London’s East End to Jamaica. Banksy released Girl with Balloon in 2004 in 150 signed and 600 unsigned editions, as well as artist’s proofs with purple, blue, pink and gold balloons. A signed edition of Girl with Balloon cost £150 when it was originally released in 2004 – they can now sell for £475,000.

One reason Girl With Balloon is so popular is because it regularly makes headlines. Most recently, a version dramatically shredded itself at a 2018 Sotheby’s auction after it sold for £1million, only to transform it into a new artwork, Love is In the Bin, which is now estimated to be worth double the price. It was the first-ever artwork to be created live during an auction and the buyer decided to keep it.

Banksy’s rats are another remarkably successful series of prints. Love Rat and Gangsta Rat are the two most desirable. Both were released in 2004, with no more than a total of 750 editions for Love Rat and 500 for Gangsta Rat (although Banksy later released rare colourways for the latter). The value increase of these pieces between 2008 and 2020 was an incredible 1000%.

Choose Your Weapon was produced in a range of colourways, with some more desirable than others. This famous image of a hooded youth taking one of Keith Haring’s cartoon dogs for a walk comes in 19 colours. The rarest colourways are yellow, green, purple, pink and turquoise, which are available in 25 signed editions each. The grey colourway was produced in 58 signed editions, but these can be as in demand as the rarer colours. A Choose Your Weapon (Fluoro Green) sold for £302,400 at Sotheby’s in March 2021.

Choose Your Weapon (fluoro green) by BanksyChoose Your Weapon (fluoro green) © Banksy 2010

Other than surprise ‘pop-up’ shops – such as one demonstrated by Banksy in New York in 2014 or Gross Domestic Product in Croydon in 2019 – there has not been a public print release since Sale Ends V2 in 2017, which keeps the value of Banksy’s secondary market on a constant rise.

Banksy announced in June 2017 he was going to release a special edition of Girl With Balloon available only for Bristol-based registered voters not voting Tory. The project was shut down due to legal issues. As far as we are aware, Banksy will not be releasing any more prints to the public.

Should you go for a signed or unsigned edition?

Another important consideration is if the piece has Banksy’s signature. Banksy’s prints often come in both signed and unsigned, numbered editions, as well as artist’s proofs. There are usually 600-750 unsigned editions and 150 signed editions per print.

Signed editions are, normally, more desirable and will fetch a higher price because they are rarer. But due to the phenomenal demand for any Banksy artworks, unsigned limited-edition prints are also highly collectable right now. The average price of an unsigned Banksy print increased by 112% from 2020-21, while the average price of a signed Banksy print increased by 152% from 2020-21.

Of course, if there are certain works that appeal to you as a collector, then those are the right ones to start with!

“The Banksy market offers collectors an exciting opportunity at both ends of the value spectrum. The print market in particular allows the novice art collector to bring home a piece of cultural legacy as well as potentially something that will reap great financial reward. However, when beginning to build an art collection, I always offer the same advice – buy something you love, enjoy it, and reap the rewards if and when you choose to pass it on.” - Ian Syer

Love Is In The Air by BanksyLove Is In The Air © Banksy 2003

How to check the authenticity of the Banksy you want to buy

The first thing you want to check when you come across a Banksy print for sale is a Certificate of Authentication (CoA). In Banksy’s case, these documents can only come from one legitimate source: Pest Control. They are the handling service for Banksy and the only agency who can confirm with a certificate whether the purchased piece is genuine. No gallery, auction house or collector will accept your piece without one.

All Banksy artworks created after 2009 come with a Pest Control certificate and it is the only place you can buy (the very rare) new prints by the artist. We’ve put together a Pest Control Guide that explains the process in more detail.

Before 2009, Banksy’s prints were sold through Pictures on Walls (POW). These works can include a Pictures on Walls embossed circular stamp, which might be authentic, but many have been forged – so it’s strongly recommended you seek out expert advice.

If the Banksy print you have your eye on doesn’t have a certificate, then we don’t recommend buying it (Banksy’s graffiti works also do not have certificates, but they were never intended for sale). You do see fake certificates being listed, so make sure you know what to look for. You can contact Pest Control for confirmation, or speak to our brokers who can help you manage the process of authenticating your work for free.

Check the condition

You should always make sure the print that is being sold to you is in pristine condition. It is often the responsibility of the seller to ensure condition checking has taken place, and in case of any damage bring in a restoration expert to advise.

A few things to note to ensure the condition and authenticity of a print: a Banksy art print will typically be a handmade silkscreen with unique colours, on wove art paper, with a crisp resolution which is far superior to a cheap replica or a poster. Early works such as Rude Copper were printed on a significantly thinner paper stock than the later prints, such as Stop And Search.

Once you have bought your Banksy print, it is vital you keep it in perfect condition, as this will affect their future value. Any prints and canvases should be kept in a dark place away from sunlight. Works on paper should have UV-protective glass framing. Some collectors go as far as keeping their prints lying flat in a dark place in order to optimise value and will advertise the piece as having been kept this way. Ensure the work has been inspected carefully before buying and consult an expert if you are in any doubt.

Laugh Now by BanksyLaugh Now © Banksy 2006

How much does an original Banksy cost?

Today, buying an original Banksy on the secondary market can cost you millions. A limited-edition print, however, can range from a few thousand up to hundreds of thousands, based on rarity, popularity and whether it is signed or not.

Banksy’s primary market releases are extremely rare. All products on his store Gross Domestic Product, which opened in 2019, are currently out of stock. The last print he produced was Sale Ends V2 in 2017. If you happen to be in Bethlehem, you can try the Walled Off Hotel gift shop, which sells open-edition merchandise by Banksy.

What are the indicators of value?

Rarity, popularity and whether a print is signed or unsigned can significantly affect the work’s value. To check if a work is signed, check the bottom corners of the print – it should have a signature in pencil and also a number as a fraction. The bottom number shows the total number of prints within the edition, while the top number is the number for this specific print.

2021 is already 122% of 2020’s total sales for Banksy prints. Over 300 prints by the graffiti artist have been sold at auction this year so far, totalling £26.7 million. MyArtBroker keeps a very close track on the developments of the Banksy market and can advise on the price of the print you are considering.

Bomb Hugger by BanksyBomb Hugger © Banksy 2003

Where do I buy a Banksy from?

Banksy prints can be bought online, at auctions, and through private sales handled by a broker (such as ourselves). Currently, Banksy prints are only available on the secondary market – no works are available via Banksy or Pest Control, so you need to buy one from an existing private collector.

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 Banksy 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 a Banksy is meant to be an exciting prospect, not something that makes you nervous!

Want to find Banksy art for sale?

Why use MyArtBroker to find your first Banksy?

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 Banksy 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.

Your personal broker will work with you to find the Banksy 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 15,000 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 Banksy 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 Banksy editions.

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

Love Rat by BanksyLove Rat © Banksy 2004
Share article