The Investment Guide To Roy Lichtenstein

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Rebecca Marsham

Rebecca Marsham, Sales Director[email protected]

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Roy Lichtenstein

Roy Lichtenstein

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Roy Lichtenstein, celebrated for pop art infused with comic book aesthetics, wielded this visual language to imbue everyday scenes with captivating narratives. His iconic use of the BenDay dot technique breathed new life into commonplace depictions, and solidifying their worth as valuable artistic investments. His art possesses a timeless quality, symbolising lucrative investment opportunities. Much like a virtuoso of pop culture, Lichtenstein possessed the uncanny ability to elevate the ordinary to the extraordinary, ensuring his print works deliver significant value and reward to collectors and investors alike.

In this investment report, we examine Lichtenstein's print market performance spanning the past seven years. Leveraging auction and sales data from our dedicated database focused on prints and editions, our objective is to provide valuable insights to help you determine whether investing in Lichtenstein is a wise decision for 2024.

Roy Lichtenstein Seven Year Print Market Performance

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Is Buying A Lichtenstein Print A Good Investment?

Analysing Lichtenstein's print market performance from 2017 to 2020 reveals diverse fluctuations in sales value and the volume of lots sold, seemingly influenced by his iconic work, Nude With Blue Hair. In 2017, Nude With Blue Hair State I, a rare version of this print in a unique colourway and limited to a small edition of ten, fetched £416,889 with fees at Christie's, setting a new auction record. This sale, along with the overall £3.8 million in sales value (hammer) at the conclusion of 2017, established a new benchmark for Lichtenstein's print market performance and its inherent worth.

The momentum continued into 2018, with a 13% increase in sales value and lots sold. In 2019, the regular edition of Nude With Blue Hair sold for £392,373 at Bonhams, highlighting its substantial investment potential. Lichtenstein's overall print market saw a 6% increase in sales value in 2018, reaching £4.6 million (hammer), and a further 10% increase in lots sold from the previous year.

Although 2020 witnessed a minor contraction in sales value and lots sold, 2021 saw a resurgence, with the same print that sold at Bonhams in 2018, Nude With Blue Hair, reselling for an impressive £542,829, contributing to record-high market performance in both sales value–£6.7 million (hammer)– and lots sold–220. Despite a marginal 5% decline in sales value in 2022, the number of lots sold witnessed a modest 3% uptick, reaching 227 lots, up from 220.

Lichtenstein 2023 Print Market Performance

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What happened In Lichtenstein's Print Market Performance In 2023?

In 2023, Lichtenstein's print market performance stood out, despite prevailing economic challenges in the art market and the global economy. His print market experienced significant growth during this period, highlighted by the £1.5 million sale of Water Lily Pond With Reflections (PP) at Sotheby's in May. This transaction played a pivotal role in achieving a record-breaking sales value of £7.7 million (hammer), marking a 22% increase from the previous year, and an additional 20% rise in lots sold–273. Further impressive and attesting to the investment potential in Lichtenstein's print market is that even without the record breaking £1.5 million sales of Lichtenstein's Water Lillies, the 2023 sales value performance would have still increased from the previous year.

The average selling price (ASP) of Lichtenstein's 2023 print market amounted to £28,549.

Lichtenstein Average Selling Price

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The ASP in Lichtenstein’s print market has demonstrated remarkable consistency over the past seven years. In 2017 and 2018, there was only a one percent year-on-year (YoY) increase in ASP. Despite a 13% increase in both sales value and lots sold during these years, the minimal change in ASP highlights the steady value of individual works.

Similarly, in 2019, there was a slight decline in ASP, despite a 5% increase in sales value and a 10% increase in lots sold, indicating stability in individual print values. The year 2020 saw a higher ASP compared to the previous year, despite being Lichtenstein’s lowest market performance in terms of sales value and lots sold, likely influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, 2021 witnessed a significant surge in ASP, reaching £30,000—a remarkable 40% increase from the previous year. This surge, alongside record-breaking numbers of lots sold and sales value, suggests an upswing in individual print values and increased spending trends in Lichtenstein’s print market. Although the ASP dropped slightly in 2022, 2023 marked a record-breaking year for Lichtenstein, with an ASP of £28,549—just 7% below the 2021 record. Despite this, there was a 15% increase in sales value and a 24% increase in lots sold from 2021, indicating a robust and thriving market.

Lichtenstein Most Popular Print Series

Lichtenstein Trending Print Series: Sales Value x Lots Sold In 2023 by MyArtBroker 2024Lichtenstein Trending Print Series: Sales Value x Lots Sold In 2023 © MyArtBroker 2024

Top Performing Print Series In Lichtenstein's 2023 Print Market

The most notable difference in terms of lots sold and sales value within Lichtenstein’s extensive collection of print series in 2023 is observed with the Entablature series. These works were abundant in volume in the 2023 print market but ranked lower in terms of sales value, thus offering more affordability for buyers. Another series with a similar pattern in terms of lots sold versus sales value is Bulls. While these works are more rare than other trophy works, they also present more accessible buying opportunities.

Lichtenstein’s Nudes series showed remarkable performance in terms of sales value and equally well in lots sold. In 2023, nine prints from Nudes were introduced to the market, with prices ranging from £80,000 to over £400,000 (hammer). This price variation is influenced by factors like print preference and rarity, underscoring the importance of analysing market dynamics for print investments. Although Nude Reading sold five times in the 2023 market, it doesn't necessarily imply market saturation. Lichtenstein’s Nudes series consists of seven prints and several did not enter the market in 2023. The continued dominance of this highly sought-after series is anticipated in the 2024 art market landscape.

Also performing favourably in terms of sales value was Lichtenstein’s Water Lilies series. These works were more rare to the market in 2023, with only four successful sales, including the record-breaking £1.5 million sale of Water Lily Pond With Reflections at Sotheby’s. Some pieces in this series offer million-dollar opportunities, while others, like Water Lily, can sell for £20,000 to £30,000, highlighting the wide range and profitability of Lichtenstein’s print market and series.

Other top performers in Lichtenstein’s portfolio in terms of sales value were works from the Landscapes, Moonscapes, Seascapes, and Reflections series. These works circulated semi-widely in 2023, indicating an opportunity to acquire works from high-value series.

Buying With MyArtBroker's Live Trading Floor

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The Most In-Demand Lichtenstein Prints Within Our Network

While Lichtenstein's Nudes series consistently garners attention on MyArtBroker's Live Trading Floor, our network uncovers compelling investment options and opportunities within our community of buyers and sellers. Among the sought-after pieces are those from Lichtenstein's earlier works in the 1960s, such as Sweet Dreams Baby! from the 11 Pop Artists series, currently valued at £60,000 - £90,000 according to MyArtBroker’s live value indicator. Another piece from the same series is The Melody Haunts My Reverie, which also attracted interest in the public market in 2023 and is sought after on our trading floor, valued at £100,000 - £150,000.

Works from Lichtenstein’s Reflections series are also trending on our trading floor, representing one of his higher-valued series. Interest in these works likely stems from their frequent appearances at public auctions in 2023, with seven successful sales from this series. Reflections On Crash emerged as the highest-valued print from this series and also ranks among Lictenstein's most investable prints for 2023. This series comprises nine prints, with values ranging from £30,000 to £130,000+ (hammer).

Some of Lichtenstein’s earlier 1960s works don’t belong to a specific series but are highly sought after for their exemplary representation of his formative phase. Brushstrokes is one example, valued at £35,000 - £60,000, embodying Lichtenstein's signature aesthetic and interest in various mediums.

While Lichtenstein’s Nudes remain in high demand on our trading floor, we also observe significant interest in his 1960s female characters, often depicted as damsels in distress. Although valued slightly less than Nudes, these works still hold considerable value and demand. Crying Girl is another 1960s print that does not belong to any series and is valued at £40,000 - £60,000.

Browse Roy Lichtenstein prints on the Trading Floor and find out more about the print market growth on the MAB100 Print Index.

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COMPARATIVE BLUE CHIP MARKET PERFORMANCE 2017 - 2023

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Seven Blue Chip Artists Markets To Know

Comparing the ASP trends of Lichtenstein's print market over the past seven years to those of other blue chip artists highlights the competitive nature of these markets and their investment potential. While ASP performances can fluctuate due to supply and demand dynamics, consistency often indicates a stable and potentially lucrative market for investment decisions, providing investors with a higher level of confidence in estimating potential returns. This stability is particularly evident when there is a significant and consistent volume of works entering the market annually, as observed in Lichtenstein’s market. The consistent ASP of Lichtenstein's prints over the seven-year period suggests strong demand and resilience to market fluctuations, as evidenced by the market's performance in 2023 with a notable increase in sales value. Overall, Lichtenstein's market exhibits greater consistency with minimal fluctuations compared to other blue-chip artists, with Damien Hirst's market being the most comparable in terms of stability, albeit operating in a lower value spectrum.

LICHTENSTEIN PRINT MARKET PRICE DISTRIBUTION

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Where To Start When Looking To Buy A Lichtenstein Print?

In contrast to other blue chip pop art artists, where the highest price range typically constitutes the smallest segment, often comprising complete sets, Lichtenstein's market presents a unique scenario. Here, complete sets are uncommon, and the top tier, consisting of works priced above £50,000, represents approximately 12.5% of the market, which is somewhat comparable to other segments within Lichtenstein’s market. This upper echelon mainly features individual works from renowned series such as Nudes, Water Lilies, and Reflections, commanding premium prices and earning a place on our MAB100 print index. Their status as the most investable prints is determined by various factors, including their market entry and the sustained competitive pricing they command.

Works priced between £25,000 and £50,000 make up the smallest portion of Lichtenstein’s market share, accounting for 10%. Many of these works, particularly earlier pieces from the 1960s like Crying Girl and Shipboard Girl, do not belong to any specific sets, yet highlight the enduring popularity and demand for Lichtenstein prints featuring women. An important aspect of Lichtenstein’s market lies in its diversity, offering opportunities across different price ranges for popular prints. While certain works from the Reflections series, such as Reflections On Crash, may command figures above £100,000, others within the same series can be acquired for £25,000 to £50,000.

The segment comprising works priced between £10,000 and £25,000 constitutes a larger share of Lichtenstein’s market, approximately 33%. Prints in this range often belong to series like Interior, Mirrors, and Entablature. However, given the vastness of Lichtenstein’s market, successfully navigating the buying or selling process largely hinges on understanding market dynamics and securing the fair market value of the desired print. MyArtBroker's value indicator can assist in making informed decisions through our collection management platform, MyPortfolio.

Read our latest Case Study to explore how other professional art traders leverage our art technology valuation tools.

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Lichtenstein Print Works Below £10,000

In 2023, nearly half of Lichtenstein's market, accounting for 45%, consisted of prints priced below £10,000, offering accessible options for collectors. Notable series like Bulls feature individual prints within this range. The 2023 Sotheby’s sale of a complete set emphasised the investment potential of the series, typically enhancing the value of individual prints. This value escalation often extends to high-value works from larger series, highlighting the allure of lesser-known pieces within those collections. For instance, prints like Seascape and Moonscape (C.212) ranked among Lichtenstein’s top investable prints from the Landscapes, Moonscapes, and Seascapes series. Additionally, prints such as Landscape 7, Landscape 9, and Sunrise, all sold for less than £10,000 with fees in 2023, provide further accessible options from this sought-after series.

Lichtenstein Posters

Lichtenstein's artistic repertoire extends beyond his renowned print series to include a diverse array of posters. While these posters, some being original silkscreen pieces, offer accessible options for collectors, they occupy a somewhat ambiguous position in Lichtenstein's print market, as noted by Richard Polsky, an authority in American pop art authentication. Polsky emphasises that while these posters hold value, the lack of numbered edition status, lowers their market worth.

“Roy was one of those artists who produced a lot of posters. Some of them are signed original silkscreens so they have value, but they are not considered editions.”
Ricard Polsky

Examples of Lichtenstein posters sold in 2023 include the Guild Hall East Hampton Poster, Modern Art Poster, The Poetry Project Symposium Poster, and Foot Medication Poster, all acquired for under £10,000. Polsky also highlights concerns about potential damage to these posters, underscoring the importance of seeking expert guidance when considering investments in poster mediums. However, these works still represent a category of Lichtenstein's print market and provide affordable entry points for collectors looking for authentic pieces with resale value.

Lichtenstein Top Ten Selling Print Works In 2023 by MyArtBroker 2024Lichtenstein Top Ten Selling Print Works In 2023 © MyArtBroker 2024

The Most In-Demand Lichtenstein Prints From Investors

The most sought-after prints in Lichtenstein’s portfolio, particularly from an investment standpoint, are those from his Nudes series. These prints entered the market in volume in 2023, consistently setting new records and garnering high demand. Similarly, works from Lichtenstein’s Reflections series are highly coveted. What sets these prints apart is Lichtenstein’s distinctive use of BenDay dots. Our Head of Acquisitions, Louis Denizet describes the use of BenDay dots as a printing process that involves photo engraving, and can be thought of as, 'the pixel of the past'.

“The BenDay process is a printing and photo engraving technique, and in many respects, it can be thought of as the pixel of the past.”
Louis Denizet

Other prints in demand among investors combine hand-painted elements with Lichtenstein's trademark machine-made prints. Certain works from Landscapes, Moonscapes, and Seascapes series exemplify this technique. While Lichtenstein's portfolio is extensive, these prints stand out as the most desired by investors, commanding premium prices. While investing in these works entails greater financial risk, and their popularity is subject to market trends, higher-priced Lichtenstein prints may offer the potential for higher returns, although it's advisable to seek expert guidance when making art investment decisions or building personal collections.

Listen to MyArtBroker's, A Buyer's Guide To Roy Lichtenstein

Liquidity In Lichtenstein's Print Market

The liquidity of Lichtenstein’s print market is multifaceted, influenced by various factors that contribute to the accessibility and desirability of his artworks. At its core, liquidity is driven by the high demand for works from Lichtenstein's most sought-after series among investors. These series, such as the Nudes, Reflections, and others, are consistently sought after due to their iconic status and cultural significance.

While liquidity can vary among prints within these series based on factors like popularity and cost, the overall market's consistency is a key determinant. The steady ASP of Lichtenstein's market over a span of seven years underscores the stability and reliability of his market. This consistent pricing indicates a steady pool of buyers who are willing to invest in Lichtenstein's prints over time.

Moreover, the appeal of Lichtenstein's imagery plays a significant role in driving liquidity. His comic book-inspired depictions and iconic Ben-Day dots technique resonate with a broad audience, enhancing the desirability of his works. Additionally, the integration of clichés from art history in series like Bulls and Landscapes, Moonscapes, Seascapes adds depth and richness to his portfolio, further enticing collectors and investors.

Lichtenstein Lots Sold By Location In 2023 by MyArtBroker 2024Lichtenstein Lots Sold By Location In 2023 © MyArtBroker 2024

Recent Market Performance and Current Opportunities

The bulk of Lichtenstein’s print market in 2023, comprising 76%, was concentrated in the United States, a trend influenced by various factors such as Lichtenstein’s profound impact on American Pop Art and the country's status as a major market hub. However, his influence extends far beyond national borders, with 14% of his market share in 2023 attributed to the United Kingdom and other European markets, as well as Asia. This widespread presence across diverse regions not only enhances liquidity by tapping into a larger pool of potential buyers but also highlights current market opportunities.

What Makes A Lichtenstein Print Desireable?

The appeal of Lichtenstein’s prints for collectors lies in their iconic status within the realm of contemporary art. Characterised by vibrant colours, bold lines, and the distinctive BenDay dot technique, his works exude a timeless appeal that transcends geographical boundaries.

Lichtenstein’s prints possess inherent investment value due to their cultural significance and historical importance. They serve as tangible expressions of the artist’s vision and evolution, making them highly coveted additions to any art collection. The accessibility of his prints, both in terms of price range and thematic resonance, further contributes to their desirability among collectors of varying tastes and backgrounds.

As institutions and galleries continue to celebrate Lichtenstein's legacy through exhibitions and retrospectives–Gagosian's latest exhibition Beyond The Canvas will run through March and The Whitney is preparing for a Lichtenstein retrospective scheduled to premier in 2026–collectors are presented with unique opportunities to acquire and engage with his works. These events not only reaffirm the artist's enduring influence but also provide valuable insights into market trends and potential investment opportunities. Lichtenstein’s prints not only captivate collectors with their visual impact but also offer a tangible connection to a pivotal period in art history, ensuring their enduring appeal in the global art market.

ROY LICHTENSTEIN TOP SELLING PRINTS

1.

Water Lily Pond With Reflections

As part of one of Lichtenstein's later print series, Water Lilies, created in 1992, featuring works as a reinterpretation of Claude Monet's iconic impressionist painting Nymphéas. Composed of six screenprints on stainless steel, these pieces have gained immense popularity in the 2023 market, blending Lichtenstein's art historical knowledge with expressive pop art techniques through diverse mediums.

Water Lily Pond With Reflections (1992) reached new heights in May 2023, selling for £1,504,691 (with fees). This marked its first appearance in a western auction since 2014 when it sold for £278,111 (with fees). This recent sale in early 2023 represents a remarkable increase in value, 5.41 times, highlighting the competitive investment potential for Lichtenstein's print market.

2.

Nude With Blue Hair

In 2023, one of Lichtenstein's most revered print series, Nudes, contributed to his second highest-selling print of the year. Nude With Blue Hair (1994) presents a close-up cropped portrait of a topless woman with tasseled blue hair, her sultry stare engaging the viewer, her arm gracefully raised to her forehead. Lichtenstein's Nude series, celebrated for its quintessential comic book aesthetic, has remained highly sought-after in the art market throughout the year, commanding competitive prices.

This particular work, embodying Lichtenstein's iconic style, sold for £612,472 (with fees) in April 2023, reflecting its universal appeal and the enduring popularity of this series.

3.

Nude With Yelllow Pillow

Nude With Yellow Pillow (1994) is also part of Lichtenstein's renowned Nudes series. While his comic book-inspired female renditions are widely appreciated, it's the Nudes collection that has been making waves throughout 2023, consistently establishing new records. This particular artwork, sold as an Artist Proof at Phillips New York auction in October, emerged as the standout lot, setting a fresh record by selling for £449,111 (with fees). We eagerly anticipate if these prints will maintain their dominance into 2024.

4.

Two Nudes

In Two Nudes (1994), a part of Lichtenstein's renowned Nudes series, diverges from traditional portraiture. Instead, Lichtenstein delves into voyeurism, capturing two alluring women in the intimate setting of a home. One woman, depicted in monochrome Ben-Day dots, lies on her stomach on the bed, her face concealed. The other, portrayed in coloured Ben-Day dots, reveals the hues of her skin as she sits on the bed.

This interplay of monochrome and colour showcases Lichtenstein's mastery of tones, creating a scene reminiscent of a comic book script, yet open to interpretation. Unlike many of his female-centric works that often depict damsels in distress, Two Nudes allows viewers to draw their own conclusions. Rare and appearing only once in 2023, the piece fetched £254,000 (with fees) in September, securing its position as the third-highest selling print in Lichtenstein's 2023 sales. Its previous appearance in 2020 commanded £162,500 (with fees), indicating a remarkable 56% increase in sales value.

5.

Reflections On Crash

Reflections On Crash (1990) belongs to Lichtenstein's renowned Reflections series, showcasing the artist's ambition and curiosity as he reimagines conventional images through a glass lens. In a triumphant comeback, this artwork achieved a record-breaking sale of £167,164 at Bonhams in October 2023, surpassing its performance in the two previous sales in 2022.

Read The Full Market Watch Report Of Roy Lichtenstein's Most Investable Prints

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