KAWS Value: Top Prices Paid at Auction

Infant Print by KAWSInfant Print © KAWS 2006
Joe Syer

Joe Syer, Co-Founder & Specialist[email protected]

Interested in buying or selling

Browse artworks


118 works

The average value of KAWS' prints has experienced a steady 3% growth compound annual growth rate over the last 5 years, with the typical price paid now reaching £10,795. As a 'hot' contemporary artist KAWS' artworks, including his prints, continue to achieve impressive prices on the secondary market.

Breaking US$1million at a Western auction for the first time as recently as March 2018, American artist and designer KAWS has since set plenty of new auction price records. The highest price paid for a KAWS painting was achieved in April 2019, when THE KAWS ALBUM, sold for £11.3m at Sotheby’s NIGOLDENEYE® Vol.1 auction in Hong Kong.

This article explores the most expensive KAWS artworks sold at auction to date.



The KAWS Album by KAWSThe KAWS Album © KAWS 2005

When THE KAWS ALBUM was carried into Sotheby’s NIGOLDENEYE® Vol.1 auction in Hong Kong on 1 April 2019, spectators grabbed their phones to document auction history in the making. Bidding started at HK$5 million and a battle quickly unfolded in the saleroom and over the telephones. The painting eventually sold for almost 15 times its high estimate, smashing the previous auction record set for KAWS only a year before.

THE KAWS ALBUM – a parody of The Beatles’ 1967 Sgt. Pepper album cover but featuring KAWS’s signature Kimpsons characters – was formerly owned by Japanese fashion designer, DJ and entrepreneur NIGO®, a long-time collector and collaborator of KAWS. His collection of street art and collectables achieved no fewer than three ‘white glove’ 100%-sold auctions at Sotheby’s in just five years.

£6.0M for Untitled (KIMPSONS NO.1)


Untitled (KIMPSONS #1) by KAWSUntitled (Kimpsons #1) © KAWS 2004

Standing almost nine feet tall, UNTITLED (KIMPSONS #1) is the largest of KAWS’s Kimpsons painting – immortalising the iconic Simpsons couch gag on a monumental scale.

KAWS first began creating the Kimpsons works in 2001 and they were his first formal paintings on canvas, bridging the gap between fine art, pop culture and parody. UNTITLED (KIMPSONS #1) was one in a series of Kimpsons paintings commissioned by NIGO® (who also owned the painting at #1 in this list). It belonged to a new owner by the time it was offered in Sotheby’s Hong Kong Contemporary Art Evening Sale on 6 October 2019, but still soared past its low estimate.

£4.7M for The Walk Home


The Walk Home by KAWSimage © Phillips / The Walk Home © KAWS 2012

An unexpected highlight of Phillips’ 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale, The Walk Home sold for nearly ten times its low estimate on 16 May 2019 in New York. In this work, a reimagined SpongeBob SquarePants with KAWS’ signature x-crossed eyes – whom the artist calls Kawsbob – screams among dozens of disembodied arms. “SpongeBob was something I wanted to do because graphically I love the shapes… But honestly, I’ve never even watched it,” KAWS has admitted.

£3.0M for In The Woods


In The Woods by KAWSIn The Woods © KAWS 2002

A larger-than-life parody of Disney’s Snow White, In The Woods was first offered for auction at Sotheby’s in New York on 3 March 2016, where it sold for almost US$430,000 – barely scraping the sale’s top ten. Just three years later, the painting was the star lot of Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art Afternoon Session in New York on 16 May 2019, where it achieved almost US$4 million. This increase of almost nine times the previous selling price is evidence of how fast KAWS’s market is rising.

£2.4M for Armed Away


Armed Away by KAWSArmed Away © KAWS 2014

In this surreal and explosive landscape, disjointed figures of Tom and Jerry, the famous cat and mouse, chase each other in “an immersive dystopian scene of environmental disaster,” explains KAWS. The work stands out from the rest of KAWS’ paintings for having a fully completed background – a rarity for the artist. When it was offered at Christie’s in Hong Kong on 25 May 2019, it more than doubled its low estimate.

£2.1M for Untitled (FATAL GROUP)


Untitled (FATAL GROUP) by KAWSimage © Phillips / Untitled (fatal group) © KAWS 2004

Untitled (FATAL GROUP) attracted a flurry of bidding when it was offered at Phillips in New York on 15 November 2018, eventually selling for over triple its high estimate and setting a new world auction record for KAWS at the time. The painting reimagines characters from the popular 1970-80s children’s cartoon Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, but with KAWS’ signature skull faces. KAWS himself was an animator and background painter for cartoons by Disney, MTV and Nickelodeon before he turned his hand to fine art.

£2.1M for Kurf (HOT DOG)


Kurf (HOT DOG) by KAWSKurf (HOT DOG) © KAWS 2008

In the 2000s, KAWS began to make works inspired by the 1980s cartoon series The Smurfs, calling his homage the Kurfs. Removing their different personalities, KAWS turned them into almost identical characters with the same x-crossed eyes and skull mouths. In this work, a tiny Kurf holds a giant hotdog — one of the most iconic foods in pop culture — bringing together many elements of American life and entertainment. The work sold at Sotheby’s in New York on 16 May 2019.

£2.1M for Kurfs (TANGLE)


Kurfs (TANGLE) by KAWSKurfs (tangle) © KAWS 2009

Offered just hours before Sotheby’s sold Kurf (HOT DOG) on 16 May 2019 (at #7 on this list), Kurfs (TANGLE) from Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale on 15 May also pays homage to the Smurfs. The two works at Sotheby’s and Christie’s, created in 2008 and 2009 respectively, sold for only US$5,000 difference – illustrating the insatiable demand for KAWS works on the secondary market.



Untitled (KIMPSONS) by KAWSimage © Sotheby's / Untitled (Kimpsons) © KAWS 2003

Another highlight of the record-breaking NIGOLDENEYE® Vol. 1 auction at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong on 1 April 2019, UNTITLED (KIMPSONS) was the second-highest lot of the auction, achieving over five times its low estimate. A final KIMPSONS couch gag-inspired painting followed closely as the third most-expensive work of the sale, selling for almost HK$21.3 million.

KAWS is drawn to the famous cartoon family for their familiarity, making his caricatures easy to understand. “Icons like Mickey, the Simpsons, the Michelin Man and SpongeBob exist in a universal way,” he has explained. “You just recognize them from the slightest glimpse of their image or sound.”

£2.0M for Untitled (Kimpsons NO.3)


Untitled (KIMPSONS #3) by KAWSImage © Sotheby's / Untitled (Kimpsons #3) © KAWS

UNTITLED (KIMPSONS #3) proves to be another record-breaking sale for KAWS and crowned the artist's fourth most expensive piece sold. Selling at £2million on April 1 2019, this painting sold nearly four times its presale estimate of £388,016-582,014 in Sotheby's, Hong Kong.

In contrast to the other Kimpsons paintings, this piece shows the caricatured Simpsons family slumped in varying positions across the now-deflated couch - it is truly a parody indicative of KAWS.

£1.9M for Chum (KCB7)


Chum (KCB7) by KAWSChum (KCB7) © KAWS 2012

A cross between KAWS' signature Companion character and the bubbly Michelin man, Chum (KCB7) once again takes a familiar character and turns it on its head. When it was offered at Christie’s in New York on 15 November 2018, it soared to almost five times its high estimate.

KAWS’ reworking of cartoons and advertising mascots follow a long tradition by older Pop artists like Claes Oldenburg, Tom Wesselmann and Takashi Murakami “who really opened up a lot of doors on acceptance and crossover projects,” KAWS admits. “That made what I was doing a bit easier to translate,” Another inspirational contemporary for the artist is “definitely Jeff Koons. I love his work… It’s so over the top.”

KAWS Market Index - MyArtBroker