A Seller’s Guide To David Hockney

Afternoon Swimming by David Hockney - MyArtBrokerAfternoon Swimming © David Hockney 1979
Celine Thompson

Celine Thompson, Post Sales & Logistics Manager[email protected]

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If you are in the market to sell a David Hockney print, here are a few pieces of advice before you start your journey, to make sure you sell at the right time and achieve the right price.

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In a career that has spanned nearly 70 years, David Hockney is undoubtedly one of the most experimental and prolific English artists working today. He made his first etching in 1952 when he was 17 years old. Now, his practice has grown to include etchings, lithographs, aquatints, ‘homemade prints’ using photocopiers and faxes, printed iPad drawings and photographic editions of his best-loved paintings.

How much does a Hockney print sell for?

Unique prints by Hockney can sell for millions of pounds at auction. The auction record is Piscine De Medianoche (Paper Pool 30), which sold in May 2018 for $11.7million (£8.7 million). Editioned prints, meanwhile, can sell for six-figure sums. In 2022, signed limited edition David Hockney prints sold for anywhere between around £1000 and £504,000 at auction.

At the top end of this range is The Arrival of Spring in Woldgate, East Yorkshire in 2011, from an edition of only 10, which sold at auction for £504,000 when offered by Phillips on the 3rd March 2022. As the top performing print of 2022, according to MyArtBroker's Print Market Report, if the seller had bought the print in 2017 they would have realised a rather sweet 5 year return of 609%.

The value of Hockney prints can be affected by several factors, including its edition size, rarity, condition and provenance. Popularity, for example if a similar artwork had featured in a recent exhibition, can also sway market trends, while other prints have lasting appeal. Each of Hockney’s print mediums have such different styles that they can attract a range of collectors and investors – as well as price points – but, generally, his prints with a small edition number are rarer and more desirable than those with larger edition numbers. Signed prints and artist’s proofs are usually more expensive than an unsigned version of the same image.

There are also trends within Hockney’s market. Large, vibrant images of swimming pools and landscapes from the artist’s time in America are among the most popular works among buyers. This might be due to the fame of swimming pool paintings like A Bigger Splash in the Tate collection, or the record-breaking Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures).

Hockney’s portraits are also popular on the secondary market, as they offer a unique insight into his relationship with the sitter (“Portraits aren’t just made up of drawing, they are made up of other insights as well,” Hockney has said). His lithograph An Image of Celia, also in the Tate collection, can sell for up to $175,000 (£134,260) with fees at auction. Celia Birtwell is among Hockney’s favourite muses – this intimacy, as well as the work’s bright colours, highly complex printing technique and the reference to Pablo Picasso, makes it one of Hockney’s most sought-after prints.

Hockney’s portraits are also popular on the secondary market, as they offer a unique insight into his relationship with the sitter (“Portraits aren’t just made up of drawing, they are made up of other insights as well,” Hockney has said). His lithograph An Image of Celia, also in the Tate collection, can sell for up to $175,000 (£134,260) with fees at auction. Celia Birtwell is among Hockney’s favourite muses – this intimacy, as well as the work’s bright colours, highly complex printing technique and the reference to Pablo Picasso, makes it one of Hockney’s most sought-after prints.

How do I prove my Hockney print is authentic?

David Hockney does not issue certificates of authenticity, so signed prints provide more security than prints without a signature. For signed etchings and lithographs, Hockney writes his signature in pencil on the bottom right of the paper along with a shortened year (for example, ‘2010’ is written as ‘10’). He writes the edition number on the bottom left of the paper. Any print pertaining to be an authentic Hockney without this format should be looked at by a specialist to conclude authenticity.

Hockney releases the majority of his prints as signed editions, but unsigned editions are available for some series, and can still fetch great prices on the private and public market. The most important thing for a prospective buyer considering the purchase of a work of art is authenticity. It is important to preserve any documents pertaining to your original purchase of your David Hockney work. It’s essential to prove the provenance of a piece – keep every scrap of paperwork related to your purchase of the artwork. This is even more important if the work is unsigned.

Depending on the publisher, Hockney’s etchings and lithographs can also come with their blindstamps. Hockney has worked with many of the same publishers and print studios for decades, including Tyler Graphics, ever since they made a portfolio of eight portraits in 1979; Editions Alecto, who published Hockney’s A Rake’s Progress series in 1963; Petersburg Press, who published Illustrations for Six Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm in 1969; and Gemini G. E. L., with whom Hockney has been working with since 1973. The blindstamp of a well-known printing studio can provide an extra layer of authenticity for a Hockney print.

Hockney publishes signed prints of his iPad drawings himself. He will sometimes add his own blindstamp to the paper along with his signature, date and edition number.

A woman in a blue dress sits facing the painter; a man in a brown suit suits adjacent to her, reading a book. A green furniture unit is in between the subjects, flowers in a vase and a mirror sit on top of it.Image © Tate / My Parents © David Hockney 1977

What if my Hockney print needs restoring?

The condition of your Hockney print will affect its value; If the artwork is not in perfect condition, it may be necessary to restore the piece in order to achieve the best price.

One of the most common issues is that the print is cockled or ‘wavy’, as paper can distort due to changes in temperature and humidity. You should also check if the paper has discoloured due to over-exposure to light, and look carefully for scratches, tears or stains.

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 or you can contact our experts to advise you on whether restoration is required for your Hockney print.

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When is the best time to sell my Hockney print?

It’s always worth thinking carefully about when you sell your David Hockney print– as with most things, timing is everything. The best time to sell your Hockney is when there is a rise in the artist’s popularity and demand, such as when he 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. It’s best to wait until there seems to be a gap or evidence of a desire for the Hockney you are selling.

Having said that, there are many Hockney prints that will always be in demand and sell well, and Hockney’s market is strong. As with many artists, David Hockney’s prints relating to the most ‘classic’ of his paintings prove eternally popular. Signed, limited-edition photographic prints of Hockney’s iconic, original works – many of which are now in museums – are consistently popular at the moment. There is a large market for such works in the MyArtBroker network. In particular, those from his time in America in the 1960s and 1970s: these large, colourful lithographs, often featuring swimming pools and intimate portraits, including A Hollywood Collection and the Paper Pool series.

Examining the market data using our unique value index, we have seen phenomenal returns for Hockney collectors and investors in the past five years. Between 2017 and 2022, Hockney's individual artwork returns have been overwhelmingly positive. Though Hockney's market faltered in 2020 in the wake of the pandemic, an increase in average selling price by 100% has driven strong value growth in his mature market over the last 24 months.

And while his prints featuring swimming pools are hard to beat, as a still-active contemporary artist, many of Hockney’s more recent works have been extremely successful. Namely, the innovation behind his use of the iPad and digital printing as a favoured medium have led recently to the astounding popularity of The Arrival of Spring series, which is fast becoming the most sought after of Hockney's works.

At MyArtBroker, our specialists keep a close eye on art market trends so don’t hesitate to get in touch if you’re looking for advice on the best time to sell.

To learn more about the highs and lows of the Contemporary print market, download our 5-Year Market Report here.

WHERE CAN I SELL MY DAVID HOCKNEY PRINT?

The final practical decision when it comes to selling your David Hockney 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.

Many new sellers turn to public online auction platforms, such as eBay, because they offer a huge audience, flexibility and a small commission. But you may risk undervaluing your Hockney print or falling foul of a fraudulent buyer.

SELLING A DAVID HOCKNEY VIA AN AUCTION HOUSE

Auction houses have an established reputation for selling Hockney prints. They can value your artwork for free and advise on its authenticity, condition and the market. But selling with an auction house comes at a price – on the day of the auction, there is no guarantee that your print will sell. An unsuccessful sale could risk your Hockney print losing its credibility. If your print sells successfully, you will need to pay up to 15% of the hammer price in seller’s fee, plus cover marketing and transport costs.

SELLING A DAVID HOCKNEY PRIVATELY VIA A BROKER

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 David Hockney 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.

WHY SELL YOUR Hockney WITH MYARTBROKER?

A DEDICATED BROKER

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!

OUR NETWORK

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.

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 David Hockney print and we’ll talk you through the process.

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