Looking to buy a Riley print instead? Read our dedicated Bridget Riley Buyers Guide.
The market for British artist Bridget Riley is on the rise. Previously described as a “sleeper market”, Riley's market performance has been strong in recent years - experiencing year-on-year increases since 2018. Considering the five year period from 2017-2022, Riley's overall market performance has grown by a significant 73%. Our specialist Jasper Tordoff reveals his insights on the market, how to sell your Bridget Riley print and things you should consider.
In 2022, signed limited edition Bridget Riley prints sold for anywhere between around £4,845 and £44,400 at auction. At the top end of this range is Untitled (based on Primitive Blaze) (1962), from an edition of 40, which sold at auction for £44,400 when offered by Bonhams in London, 28th September 2022.
Older editions such as the monochrome Fragments on plexiglas series are harder to come by on the market and therefore command higher prices. Riley’s exploration into colour from the early vertical 70s stripes such as Firebird (1971) to her stripes released in the 2000s continue to climb steadily in price.
Size is also important with many collectors wanting large works such as Ra Inverted (2009), New Day (1992) from the Rhomboid series spanning the 80s and early 90s. The curvilinear Large Fragment (2006) is also in demand.
The cost of a Riley print depends on many factors, including its physical size, when the series was made, its rarity and edition size, as well as its condition and provenance (such notable previous ownership or if it was exhibited in a notable exhibition).
But the average price is going up: from £4,886 in 2018 to £6,881 in 2019, to £7,442 in 2020, to £10,482 in 2021 and £12,334 in 2022 – an 18% increase in average sale price on last year.
Unlike Banksy’s Pest Control, Riley does not issue certificates of authenticity as standard for her prints. So it is vital to have your print’s paperwork on hand before you try to sell – for example, your proof of purchase, certificates from the gallery or printer, the original frame or original gallery stickers on the back of the frame, and a paper trail detailing the previous owners (also called provenance).
“If you still have the original packaging that came with your print, such as a box from the Tate, this can help to strengthen the authenticity of your print,” says Joe.
Riley’s prints are printed on high-quality wove paper, which makes them less vulnerable to damage. But it is still essential that you try to sell your print in the best possible condition to get the best price.
Check for signs of damage such as scratches or tears on the paper, foxing (brown spots caused by mould spores or iron minerals in the paper), light damage like faded colours or yellowing paper, or warping of the paper due to changes in humidity.
If you have concerns or questions, contact MyArtBroker and we can recommend a professional restorer to advise you on whether your Riley print needs restoration.
Find out more in our guide to restoring and caring for modern and contemporary prints.
“The prices for Riley’s prints have been increasing year on year but I don’t think it has peaked yet,” says Joe. It’s always worth thinking carefully about when you sell your Bridget Riley print– as with most things, timing is everything. The best time to sell your Riley is when there is a rise in the artist’s popularity and demand, such as when she is holding a critically acclaimed exhibition or a major work makes a splash at auction.
Sellers should also bear in mind that if a similar piece is on the secondary market you don’t want to have to compete against it, a move which would only serve to affect both prices negatively; thankfully, Riley’s market is consistently low volume, meaning for particularly popular works, there is typically more demand than works available on the secondary market. Riley’s market is consistently low volume due to scarcity on the secondary market, and value averages can be affected by specific ‘star’ works that are regularly in demand in the private and public auction markets.
Within those star works from Riley's portfolio is the Fragment series - which over 5 years has represented 26% of the total sales value at 10% of the sales volume with an average sales price of £27,858. Although attracting headline prices, the series has an average sale price compounded average growth rate of 4%, in part due to a -5.6% drop year over year in 2022.
Demand for an artist's prints often rises when they are in the news, for example during a large exhibition, in response to a new biopic film or book, or after a major painting has sold at auction. But, again, an astute eye to both the public renown and market for your artist is crucial; selling your print at the same time as other sellers risks flooding the market with supply and decreasing the sale price.
At MyArtBroker, our specialists keep a close eye on art market trends, examining the market data using our unique value index, so don’t hesitate to get in touch if you’re looking for advice on the best time to sell. We saw firsthand an increase in value for Bridget Riley prints in 2022 and MyArtBroker frequently receives requests for her prints. “We’ve gotten enquiries about prints across Riley’s career, from her earliest works such as Fragments from 1965, through to Stripes from the 1970s and Rhomboid from the 1980s, all the way to her more recent prints like Rose Rose from 2012, created to commemorate the Olympic Games in London,” says Joe.
To learn more about the highs and lows of the Contemporary print market, download our 5-Year Market Report here.
The final practical decision when it comes to selling your Bridget Riley print is where and how to make the sale. Online platforms, auction houses and private sales are the three main options for selling a print; each has their own advantages and disadvantages, ultimately depending on your level of confidence and expertise in the art market.
Auction houses have an established reputation for selling Riley prints. They can offer a free auction estimate and advise on your print’s authenticity, condition and market value. But sellers are restricted to the auction house’s calendar, which can be set months in advance regardless of the changes in the market. On the day of the auction, there is no guarantee that your print will sell – some auction houses still charge a fee for unsold artworks. If your print sells successfully, you will need to pay a seller’s fee up to 15% of the hammer price.
“At auction, the sold price is not the amount that goes to the seller,” warns Joe. “In addition to the seller’s fee, the cost of shipping to the auction house must also be covered by the seller, and is often a cost for marketing the artwork too.”
Private brokers like MyArtBroker can offer you the same free valuation and expert advice within a shorter time frame. Selling through a private gallery or a brokerage such as MyArtBroker can often be a good bet for the inexperienced than going through an auction. Private brokers give you access to a network of clients they know well and who will be interested in your Bridget Riley print.
Private brokers can also help you with questions around authenticity, how to set realistic prices and supply potential buyers at a much more leisurely pace than the stress of an auction.
At the same time, a private sales partner, like MyArtBroker will be able to negotiate immediate payment for your print from a collector, meaning there is no obligation to settle for a lower-than-expected price (as you might at auction) and that the final sum is with you faster. When it comes to auction houses, they may not be able to consign your print immediately (for example, if the same print edition is already being featured in a sale), and if the next print sale is five months off, you will simply have to wait.
To learn more, we recommend reading our comprehensive Guide To Auction v Private Sales.
Online marketplaces, such as eBay, allow you to connect directly with buyers at a low fee. But these platforms also run the risk of scammers, or you may unintentionally undervalue your Riley print. Selling on these platforms should depend on your level of confidence and expertise in the art market.
Many new sellers turn to public online auction platforms, such as eBay, because they offer a huge audience, flexibility and a small commission. But we recommend weighing your options carefully, as you may risk undervaluing your Riley print or falling foul of a fraudulent buyer.
Read our Guide to Selling Art Online.
MyArtBroker will introduce you to your own personal expert broker who will find you a buyer and guide you through the process without any charge to you— you can get to know our friendly specialists here. Our brokers will help you with authenticity and condition checking, offer advice on realistic sale prices and the optimal time to sell plus manage the negotiation from start to finish.
As we value your prints as much as you do, our brokers will always ensure they negotiate the best price for you. Even better, it’s free to sell!
With over 30,000 collectors buying and selling artwork daily, and over 75,000 visitors to our website every month, at MyArtBroker we have a worldwide network of private collectors, brokers and galleries to help you find the right buyer at the right price. The market for Riley’s prints is growing internationally: sales in the US have grown from 9% to 12% between 2020-21, while sales in countries beyond the UK and US have grown from 12% to 23%.
Our online platform also lets us market your piece discreetly, saving you the hassle of dealing with potential buyers or the stress of an auction. It also means your artwork is on display 24 hours a day, reaching your target market while you get with other things.
Get in touch with us here if you’re interested in selling a Bridget Riley print and we’ll talk you through the process.
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