The Investment Guide To Bridget Riley

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Jasper Tordoff

Jasper Tordoff, Specialist[email protected]

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Bridget Riley rose to prominence as an innovative force in the art world during the 1960s, challenging conventional painting methods and paving the way for new artistic expressions. As a leading figure in the British arts landscape, Riley found inspiration in diverse sources, from the dynamic rhythms of Cornwall's coastal waters to the graceful contours of Italian sculptures, and the rich hues of Egypt and India. Riley's artistic approach embodies simplicity in both form and color, yet her compositions possess a captivating complexity, evoking sensations of vibrancy and motion that reverberate across the canvas.

In this investment report, we examine Riley's print market performance spanning the past seven years. Leveraging auction and sales data from our dedicated database focused on prints and editions, our objective is to provide valuable insights to help you determine whether investing in Riley is a wise decision for 2024.

Bridget Riley Seven Year Print Market Performance

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Is Buying A Riley Print A Good Investment?

Riley's print market performance over the past seven years has showcased resilience and promise for art investors. Despite a minor downturn in 2018, Riley's market climbed in 2019, reaching new heights in 2020 with an impressive 74 successful print sales—a significant achievement considering their scarcity in the public market. In 2021, although fewer prints entered the market by 23%, the sales value peaked at £655,103, demonstrating the appeal of Riley's works to investors and collectors alike. Moving into 2022, there was a slight uptick in the number of lots sold, coupled with a negligible difference in sales value and minimal fluctuations overall. The market performance of Riley's print market over the span of seven years highlights the dynamic yet largely positive direction it has taken, presenting attractive opportunities for astute art investors.

Riley 2023 Print Market Performance

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What Happened In Riley's Print Market Performance In 2023?

In 2023, Riley's print market exhibited exceptional performance, presenting lucrative opportunities for art investors. Despite a 15% decrease in lot count compared to 2022 and a more significant 23% decline from the peak lot count observed in 2020, the sales value soared to an impressive £672,914, marking a record high over the past seven years. This outstanding performance underscores the inherent value in the scarcity of Riley's prints on the public market, resulting in an impressive Average Selling Price (ASP) of £11,806.

Riley Average Selling Price

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The ASP of Riley’s print market serves as a compelling indicator of its robust performance and attractiveness as an art investment opportunity. Despite a temporary downturn in 2018, likely due to the limited availability of prints—only 46 sold on the public market—the trajectory of Riley's print market has been consistently upward from 2019 onwards. The peak ASP observed in 2021 highlights the market's resilience. Although there was a slight dip in ASP in 2022, partly influenced by the 17% higher lot count than the previous year, it still demonstrated a significant 52% increase from 2020. Moving into 2023, the sales value of Riley prints not only maintained its strength but surged, climbing 21% higher than 2022 and 3% higher than 2021.

Although there was a decline in the number of lots sold in 2023 compared to the previous year, scarcity fuelled demand, leading to several high-value lots emerging as top performers in Riley's overall market. Green Dominance, Blue Dominance, Red Dominance achieved record sales at Leslie Hindman Auctioneers in Chicago in April 2023, currently holding the title of Riley's highest-selling print to date. Similarly, RA (Inverted) attained notable success at Christie's in September, securing its position among Riley's top ten selling prints in her entire market.

Riley Most Popular Print Series

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Riley Print Series: Lozenges and Stripes

Riley’s print market in 2023 exhibits a notable correlation between demand and sales value in terms of series-specific entries in the 2023 print market. For example, print works from Riley’s top four series—Lozenges, Stripes, Dominance, and Fragment—exhibited closely aligned performances in terms of sales value and lots sold. This suggests not only a high investor demand for prints from these series but also an equilibrium between supply and demand.

In 2023, Riley's Stripes series welcomed ten new additions to the market, resulting in £154,500 in turnover (hammer), with RA (Inverted) emerging as the standout piece. This sale reached significant milestones by setting a new auction record, marking its first appearance since 2020 and achieving an impressive 2.3-fold increase in value from the previous sale. Riley's Stripes series consists of 15 print and symbolises her shift from monochrome to colour in her artistic repertoire, further enhancing its appeal to collectors and investors alike.

The Lozenges series, consisting of 22 print works, also performed strongly in 2023, with 17 prints sold on the market and £142,970 in turnover (hammer). The highest performer, Large Fragment, fetched £20,480 with fees at Bonhams. This series, spanning over a decade in the making, is significant for its ambitious exploration of colour through experimental forms.

Riley Trending Print Series By Sales Value In 2023 by MyArtBroker 2024Riley Trending Print Series By Sales Value In 2023 © MyArtBroker 2024

Riley Print Series: Dominance and Fragment

In 2023, both the Dominance and Fragment series demonstrated parallel performances in terms of lots sold and sales value, each introducing four new works to the market and generating turnovers ranging from £75,000 to £85,000. Originating from Riley’s monochromatic works of the 1960s, the Fragment series has consistently bolstered her print market performance, particularly in terms of sales value. Despite a slight decrease in prevalence compared to previous years, the scarcity of these print works is expected to sustain their investment appeal.

https://open.spotify.com/episode/3DK3MOyCv0qlKlf6ko3HFW?si=9e28fa6175eb4e94
“Riley's Fragment series holds immense significance as it represents the culmination of her entire body of work. Experimental and innovative, these pieces transcend vertical lines, intertwining shapes to reveal Riley's understanding of the effects and depths of monochrome before experimenting with colour.”
Jasper Tordoff

Conversely, the Dominance series, comprising three prints, made a notable return in 2023 with four works entering the market after being relatively scarce over the past seven years. This series resulted in a turnover of £75,189 (hammer), including the rare complete set making its debut in the market, underscoring its increasing recognition and appeal among collectors.

While other listed series maintained their relative scarcity in Riley's 2023 print market, their inclusion enhances Riley’s diverse artistic portfolio, providing collectors with a wider array of investment prospects.

Buying With MyArtBroker's Live Trading Floor

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The Most In-Demand Riley Prints Within Our Network

On MyArtBroker’s live trading floor, Riley's most sought-after prints in 2023 originate from her highly coveted series. Prints from the Stripes series, such as Serpentine, currently valued at £9,000 - £13,500 according to our real-time value indicator, and Edge Of Light, valued at £22,000 - £35,000, are experiencing significant demand among investors. Similarly, Start from the Lozenges series garners attention with a valuation of £7,500 - £11,000, while One Small Step, also from Lozenges, is priced at £6,000 - £9,500. Explore our latest Case Study to discover the technology powering our real-time value indicator and its impact on the art investment landscape.

Works from the Fragment series are equally desirable, with Fragment 5 commanding £22,000 - £35,000. Notably, Fragment 5 made a single appearance at auction in 2023. Read our 2023 April auction report for detailed pricing information on this sale. Other sought-after series such as Bagatelle and Composition With Circles offer a diverse range of buyer opportunities with slightly lower valuations compared to prints from the Lozenges and Stripes series.

Browse Bridget Riley prints on the Trading Floor and find out more about the print market growth on the MAB100 Print Index.

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Comparative Blue Chip Market Performance

Bridget Riley
Keith Haring
Damien Hirst
Roy Lichtenstein

Seven Blue Chip Artists Markets To Know

Riley's print market performance over the past seven year period aligns closely with Damien Hirst's performance when evaluating the ASP. In 2018, Riley experienced an unusual market fluctuation, with the ASP dropping to £5,000; however, it swiftly rebounded to 2017 levels, matching Hirst's ASP. Since 2021, Riley's print market has outpaced Hirst's, with both the ASP and individual value of Riley's prints steadily rising. While operating on a lower value scale, the market dynamics mirror those of other blue chip artists including Keith Haring and Roy Lichtenstein.

For further in-depth market insights on blue chip artists read our Hirst, Haring and Lichtenstein Art Investment Guides for 2024.

Riley Print Market Price Distribution

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Where To Start When Looking To Buy A Riley Print?

Complete Sets

In 2023, the price distribution of Riley’s market based on lots sold reveals a thriving segment, with approximately 10% of top-tier works priced above £20,000 and another 10% falling within the £15,000 to £20,000 range. Unlike in other blue chip artists' markets, where complete sets often dominate the smallest and upper most percentage of lots sold, complete sets in Riley's market are exceptionally rare, primarily due to the relatively large print count within each unique series. However, in 2023, the complete set of Riley's Dominance series entered the market, falling within this upper price bracket. The only other complete set in Riley's artistic output available on the market is Nineteen Greys, comprising four works, and the complete set of this series has not been seen on the market since 2020.

The Most In-Demand Riley Prints From Investors

Apart from the sole sale of the Dominance complete set in 2023, the majority (10%) of lots sold in Riley's 2023 print market consisted of individual works from the Fragment series, renowned for their monochromatic palette, and the Stripes series, which represents Riley's initial experimentation with colour. These seminal series' works have demonstrated their ability to retain value and remain highly sought after by investors.

Comprising another 10% of lots sold in Riley's 2023 print market are works priced in the range of £15,000 to £20,000, including pieces from the aforementioned series as well as selections from the Lozenges and Zig/Rhomboid series. Prints from Riley's various series priced above £10,000 and up to £15,000 constitute a more substantial portion of her 2023 print market, accounting for 21% of lots sold. Among these are prints from series such as Waves, Intervals, Compositions With Circles, Coloured Greys, and Elongated Triangles, spanning from the 1960s to the 2020s.

Prints to Invest in Below £10,000

Demonstrating the breadth of Riley's print market, a significant 58% of lots sold consist of works priced at £10,000 and below, offering a wealth of opportunities for both seasoned collectors and newcomers alike. This segment comprises individual works from various series as well as standalone pieces like Measure For Measure and Print For Chicago 8. Although generally, artworks produced in the 2000s are more accessible and affordable in terms of pricing.

Given the abundance of works within Riley's series, various works can be acquired for various price points. However, successful investment requires adept navigation of market dynamics and a thorough understanding of saturation levels, underscoring the importance of seeking professional guidance for art investment endeavours. Platforms like MyArtBroker offer an enticing alternative to traditional auction houses. These platforms leverage advanced technological tools to provide valuable insights into fair market values, empowering investors to make well-informed decisions. Additionally, our extensive network of reputable buyers and sellers streamlines the process of acquiring desired prints, bypassing the complexities often associated with the art market.

To discover how MyArtBroker's tools can empower your art investments, explore our Emerging Art & Tech Report: Empowering Art Collectors & Investors.

Liquidity of Artwork by Female Post-War Artists: Bridget Riley

Riley's artwork liquidity stems from multiple factors that enhance its marketability, ranging from public commissions to prestigious exhibitions, bolstered by her status as a pioneering female post-war artist and the accessibility of price points offered by her print works. These factors contribute to sustained demand from collectors and investors, resulting in consistent the increases in sales values over a seven-year period.

Despite economic challenges, 2023 proved to be a landmark year for Riley's print market sales, with various events underscoring her enduring international influence. In February 2023, the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles honoured Riley with a solo exhibition dedicated to her drawings and works on paper. Additionally, in May 2023, Riley was commissioned to paint the ceiling of the British School at Rome (BSR). Currently, Riley's artworks are featured in a group exhibition alongside other prestigious post-war female abstract artists at the Turner Contemporary in Margate, offering further testament to her ongoing relevance and appeal, even at the age of 92.


Moreover, Riley's prints' accessibility across various price points ensures inclusivity, fostering market fluidity and attracting a diverse range of buyers. The ongoing presence of Riley's artworks at prestigious art fairs like the London Art Fair 2024 and endorsements from experts like Simon Shore from Stow Art House further underscore her significance in the art world. Additionally, while major auction houses traditionally handle Riley's works, the substantial percentage of sales value (48%) occurring at smaller auction houses in 2023 reflects the broad reach and accessibility of her print market, creating opportunities for both sellers and buyers.

”When Riley was growing up in Cormwell and watching the waves come in, she famously said that not one wave hits the beach like a wave has before, and no wave will do that thereafter.”
Jasper Tordoff
Riley Lots Sold By Location In 2023 - MyArtBroker 2024Riley Lots Sold By Location In 2023 © MyArtBroker 2024

Recent Market Performance And Current Opportunities

Riley's presence in the art market has been marked by consistent expansion and increased demand from international audiences. The chart above illustrates the distribution of lots sold by location in 2023 revealing that 67% of transactions occurred within the United Kingdom, while 24% were conducted in the United States. This geographical distribution underscores the global appeal and widespread recognition of Riley's artistic contributions.

What Makes A Riley Print Desirable?

Riley prints are coveted for the artist's distinctive style characterised by optical illusions, vibrant colours, and geometric patterns that evoke a sense of dynamism and visual intrigue. Each of her works is a masterclass in optical art, captivating viewers with its mesmerising effects and meticulous execution. The abstraction in Riley's prints are imbued with a sense of timelessness and sophistication, and also a turning point in art historical narrative and aesthetics. The rarity of certain prints, coupled with Riley's status as a pioneering figure in post-war and contemporary art, further enhances their desirability and investment potential. As a result, collectors seek out Riley's prints not only for their aesthetic value but also as sound investments with the potential for long-term appreciation.

Bridget Riley Top Selling Prints

1.

Green Dominance, Blue Dominance, Red Dominance

The complete set of Green Dominance, Blue Dominance, Red Dominance constitutes Riley's Dominance series, originating in 1967. Each print within this series features meticulously arranged vertical lines in rotating colours, resulting in a mesmerising optical interplay. Representing a pivotal moment in Riley's artistic journey, these works epitomise her exploration of colour during what would later be recognised as the Polychrome Op Art era, departing from her previous emphasis on solid monochromatic schemes. Notably rare in Riley's print market, acquiring the entire trio is an even more exceptional feat. In 2023, this complete set appeared at Leslie Hindman Auctioneers in Chicago, marking its first public unveiling since 2020. The set achieved a record-breaking price of £70,854 with fees, showcasing a remarkable 2.2-fold increase from its previous sale.

2.

RA (Inverted)

RA (Inverted) features slender vertical lines in a spectrum of rotating colours, interspersed with meticulously positioned black and white lines, shaping the perception and interaction of the repeating colours within the composition. Black intensifies colour saturation and depth, enhancing vibrancy, while white accentuates brightness and clarity, offering a crisp visual impact. Riley's adept manipulation of colours and geometries creates striking optical illusions. Rarely seen in the market, this artwork reappeared in 2023 after its last auction in 2020, achieving £44,100 with fees, doubling its previous sale price, and making only its third public auction appearance.

3.

Firebird

Firebird is part of Riley's Stripes series, originating in 1971. Despite its vertical variations in warm and cool hues punctuated with evenly distributed white, this piece was intended to be experienced from a horizontal perspective, encouraging a left-to-right reading. While Firebird has made modest appearances in public auctions, typically once or twice a year, it's scarcity adds to its allure. In 2023, Firebird made two appearances, with the highest selling price attained at Cheffins in October, where the artwork fetched £33,000 including fees.

4.

Fragment 2

Fragment 2 is part of Riley's esteemed Fragment series, a collection of seven works unveiled in 1965 within a limited edition of 75 prints. This series holds paramount importance in Riley's oeuvre, showcasing her early experimentation and mastery of monochromatic compositions, specifically crafted in crescent moon shapes to evoke mesmerising configurations and disorienting effects. Revered within the art market, the Fragment series stands as some of Riley's most coveted creations. Fragment 2 made two notable appearances in 2023, achieving its highest sale price of £30,366 including fees at Christie's, setting a record value for this print and affirming its enduring appeal among collectors and investors alike.

5.

Fragment 5

Another addition to Riley's Fragment series, Fragment 5 epitomises Riley's exploration of monochromatic themes within the art market. This artwork, featuring a distinctive single wave-like crescent moon formation, has made a modest number of appearances in public auctions over the past five years, although its overall presence surpasses that of the previous work, Fragment 2. Fragment 5 made its auction debut in February 2003 and had a single appearance on the market in 2023, commanding a selling price of £28,582 inclusive of fees ranking as one of Riley's most investable prints.

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