One the most important American artists working today, Christopher Wool’s paintings can fetch for up to tens of millions at auction. His prices peaked in 2015, but his limited-edition prints can still achieve thousands, even tens of thousands, on the secondary market today.
Christopher Wool creates three distinct types of prints, each with their own price points and buyers. The first is his black and white text art, which is the artist’s most sought-after in both canvas and paper mediums. While an original of Wool’s Run Dog Run work can cost nearly £12 million at auction, the most expensive single print edition sold in October 2019 for $13,750. A full set of three Run Dog Run prints (edition of 25, plus seven artist’s proofs) can fetch for up to £40,000.
In 1989, Wool released his Black Book series, a limited-edition book of 17 lithographs featuring single words like Hypocrite, Insomniac and Adversary (edition of 350 plus eight artist’s proofs). A complete portfolio can sell for up to £40,000, but individual lithographs can still fetch four-figure sums. The most expensive single from Black Book was Prankster, which sold for $5,760 in January 2017.
The second type of print is text art in colours. While Wool is best known for his stark, black and white text, these colourful works are also popular with collectors. My House, one of Wool’s most expensive paintings at auction, is available in three different colour screenprints (My House I, My House II and My House III, each in an edition of 100 plus artist’s proofs). A print of My House II sold for $40,000 in April 2015 – the highest for a single print in the series – while a full set of three My House screenprints can sell for as much as £60,000.
The last type of print is Wool’s abstract artworks. His print Untitled (Sonic Youth) is among the best-known and most popular, as a detail of the artwork is featured in the rock band Sonic Youth’s 2006 Rather Ripped album cover. The most expensive edition of Untitled (Sonic Youth) sold for $27,500.
Most of Wool’s editions include a signature, either signed in pencil or as an emboss of the artist’s name. He also includes in the date and, often, the edition number. For the Black Book folio, Wool’s signature in black pen and the edition number can be found on the justification page. Each single page from Black Book is, however, not individually signed. An unsigned single page from Black Book should be looked at by a specialist to confirm authenticity.
Another way to prove that your print is a genuine work by Wool is to have records of its provenance, tracing the work’s entire ownership history. Having paperwork to prove how you purchased this piece is essential for showing it is genuine.
The condition of your Wool print will have a direct influence on its value – if it is in less than perfect condition, it may be necessary to restore the piece in order to achieve the best price.
For screenprints, look for the most common issues affecting works on paper, such as wrinkling or ‘cockling’ from changes in temperature and humidity. You should also check for discolouration of the paper, either due to over-exposure to sunlight or, if there are brown spots, due to bacteria. For his Black Book folio, look carefully for handling creases or scratches, particularly around the paper’s edges and corners.
These are some of the most obvious signs of damage for a print – more information is available in MyArtBroker’s guide to restoring and caring for prints and our experts can also advise you on whether restoration is required.
Finally, the last point to consider is where to sell. Auction houses, private sale and online platforms are the main options, each with their own benefits and drawbacks.
Online marketplaces, such as eBay, enjoy a large, established audience and a small commission rate. But if you don’t have a lot of experience selling art, you may risk undervaluing your Wool print or falling foul of a fraudulent buyer.
Auction will appraise your work for free and advise you on provenance and condition. There is no guarantee, however, that your print will sell on the day of the auction – an unsuccessful sale could result in your print being ‘burned’, losing its credibility and short-term value. If your print does sell, you will need to pay up to 15% of the hammer price in seller’s fee, plus cover marketing and transport costs.
Private brokers like MyArtBroker can give you the specialist knowledge of an auction house as well as access to a large network of collectors. We can help you with questions about authenticity and condition, how to set a realistic price and seek a buyer in the time frame that suits you. We offer 0% seller’s fees for work by any of the artists we specialise in, there are no hidden costs.
If you’d like any more advice on how to sell your Wool print, just let us know. You can request a valuation of your artwork any time and we will respond within 12 hours.