Looking to sell a Basquiat print? Here are some important points to consider while you prepare you work for sale, and advice on choosing the right time and place to offer it back to the market.
Basquiat’s top prints can command millions of pounds. His most expensive edition, Untitled, sold for $2.9 million (£2.35 million) in June 2020. Printed on canvas, the work only exists as 10 signed editions with 2 artist proofs – its very low edition number and rarity have likely contributed to its high price.
One of the most desirable Basquiat prints on the secondary market is Back Of The Neck, which the artist made in 1983. At over 2.5 metres wide, it is a monumental work on paper with hand-coloured finishing, featuring some of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s most recognisable motifs – anatomy, the © symbol and a three-pointed crown. An edition of Back Of The Neck achieved £627,500 at in October 2020.
Another popular print with Basquiat collectors is Anatomy, a portfolio of 18 signed prints that the artist made in 1982. Only 6 editions and 9 artist’s proofs exist, making Anatomy one of Basquiat’s rarest portfolios. It can sell for as much as $372,500 (£282,170).
While these prints were created in his lifetime, Basquiat’s estate has also published editions after the artist’s death. These posthumous works – based on Basquiat’s most celebrated paintings – are also desirable among collectors. Flexible, which was released as signed editions of 85 (plus 15 artist’s proofs) in 2016, recreates Basquiat’s painting on a picket fence from 1984. The original painting sold for $45.3 million at Phillips in New York on 17 May 2018. An editioned print of Flexible sold for $93,750 (£76,650) in May 2020 against an estimate of $50,000-70,000.
Basquiat signed and dated in pencil the prints that he made during his lifetime. These works, however, do not come with a certificate of authenticity – so provenance and having paperwork of ownership is essential for proving your Basquiat print is genuine.
Prints published posthumously by Basquiat’s estate are signed by the estate and sometimes stamped on the reverse. Common signatures include Gerard Basquiat, the artist’s father and Administrator of the Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Lisane Basquiat and Jeanine Heriveaux, the artist’s sisters. Editions of Flexible and Boxer Rebellion are accompanied with a certificate of authenticity, but other editions published by Basquiat’s estate do not include certificates.
If you need a specialist to authenticate your Basquiat print, contact MyArtBroker and we can manage this process for you.
Most of Basquiat’s prints are published on high-quality paper. His portfolio Anatomy, published when the artist was only 22 years old, is printed on Arches wove paper – a high-quality heavy paper favoured by artists from Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein to Claude Monet and Francis Bacon. These works are less vulnerable to damage, but it is still worth checking them for scratches, tears, warping or fading.
Posthumous editions published by Basquiat’s estate, like Head, are printed on Saunders watercolour paper – also a heavy, top-quality paper ideal for screen printing. Although most of these editions were made very recently, it is important to keep them in pristine condition before you sell. Anything less than perfect condition will have a negative impact on the value of the artwork. MyArtBroker experts can help you assess the condition of your Basquiat print and recommend if restoration is required. Submit your Basquiat print for appraisal here.
Many factors affect the market for Basquiat’s work, so it is worth thinking carefully about when you sell. Interest in Basquiat’s art usually rises when the artist is in the news, for example during a landmark anniversary or a blockbuster exhibition. It is worth noting that five of his ten top-selling paintings are auction were all sold in 2017 and 2018, when Basquiat had major travelling retrospectives in London, New York, Cleveland, Denver and Frankfurt.
While it is important to sell when Basquiat’s reputation is on the rise, if there are too many prints available at auction, it may drive prices down. You do not want the market to be saturated nor do you want to wait too long and miss the right opportunity. MyArtBroker specialists keep a close eye on art market trends and can advise you on the best time to offer your artwork to market.
The final consideration you should make is where to sell your Basquiat print. The most popular channels are online marketplaces, auction houses and private brokers.
Online marketplaces, such as eBay, are often attractive because they offer a large audience and take a relatively small commission fee. But with so much activity, it is harder to reach a dedicated buyer of Basquiat prints at the right market price. If you are inexperienced with selling art online, without expert guidance you may also risk undervaluing your print or falling foul of a fraudulent buyer.
Auction houses can offer expertise but are an expensive way to sell either via private or live auction channels. They will appraise your print for free and also advise on condition and authenticity. There is no guarantee, however, that your print will sell on the day of the auction. An unsold artwork at auction may risk becoming ‘burned’, or losing its credibility and short-term value. The seller’s fees for auction houses are also very high – up to 15% of the hammer’s price – and you also need to cover marketing and transport costs.
Private brokers like MyArtBroker can give you better access to a large network of collectors and the same level of expertise as an auction house. We can help you with questions about authenticity, condition, how to set a realistic price and supply potential buyers on your preferred time frame. We also offer to sell any work within the markets we specialise in for free, 0% seller’s fees – zero extra costs.
If you’d like any more advice on how to sell a work by Jean-Michel Basquiat, you can request a valuation of your artwork any time and we will respond within 12 hours.