A Buyer’s Guide To Takashi Murakami

Homage To Monogold D by Takashi MurakamiHomage To Monogold D © Takashi Murakami 2012
Jasper Tordoff

Jasper Tordoff, Specialist[email protected]

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Takashi Murakami

Takashi Murakami

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If you’re toying with the idea of investing in prints, then the work of Takashi Murakami could be a very good place to start. He’s often called the ‘Warhol of Japan’, and like the pop art pioneer before him, Murakami has always had a soft spot for prints.

In recent years, his collaborations with celebrity devotees and luxury brands, not to mention his ever growing Instagram following, have all brought him fame far behind the contemporary art world. This means his work is unlikely to devalue any time soon, and despite his record at auction being $15.2 million (for his sculpture My Lonesome Cowboy), his limited edition prints offer affordability and bags of kudos.

A commercial and critical success story

Murakami is the theorist behind the contemporary art movement he calls “Superflat” – an aesthetic which combines classical Japanese art with contemporary Japanese pop culture.

To collectors, Murakami is famous for his psychedelic flowers and eye-popping cartoons. And to the mass market, he’s known for everything from his key chains and t-shirt lines to his characterful stuffed toys and pillows. In the early 2000s, you could buy a plastic Murakami figurine for as little as $3.

Is there such a thing as too successful?

In the past, Murakami’s commercial success has led to some accusations of focusing too much on “moving merch” (New York Magazine) and in his native Japan, he’s occasionally been dismissed as “the one who does the cute flowers”. Yet Murakami’s place in the history books is secure. Few artists can boast of being one of Time Magazine’s top 100 influential people, exhibiting in leading galleries all over the world and attracting buyers happy to pay into the millions. As a prospective print buyer, this means there’s really no such thing as a bad time to buy a Murakami print.

What can buyers expect to pay for a Murakami print?

Happily for collectors, Murakami has always been a believer in giving people the chance to own high quality art at more “democratic” prices. Back in 2008 he created the My First Art Series, a solo exhibition featuring over 80 varieties of Murakami posters – all signed and editioned. This was followed in 2009 by I Love Prints And So I Make Them, in case you were in any doubt about his fondness for the medium. In 2019, his Flower Ball series was a big hit with buyers, who eagerly snapped up limited edition prints for around the £1,200 mark (in contrast to the originals which go for millions). Among other highly covetable prints include the perennially popular DOB series and the classic 727 series.

More recently, Murakami responded to the BLM protests by producing six new monochrome screen prints (each limited to 300 editions). But you’d be very lucky to get your hands on one, when the project was announced in June 2020 they were expected to raise more than their $1 million in total (all of which was earmarked for charitable organisations connected to the BLM movement).

Despite being one of the most important Japanese artists working today, Murakami’s prints tend to offer an accessible price point for collectors of his work.

Buying offsets vs silkscreens

One of the things that makes a Murakami print special are the unique printing processes he employs. There are offsets (machine printed editions of 300) and silkscreens (handmade editions of 50 to 100). Obviously these rarer silkscreens are likely to set you back more than the offsets but compared to the cost of a Murakami original, they do offer good value for money. Murakami’s team of assistants use the same techniques as when they’re making his originals (many Murakami originals are made by assistants using thousands upon thousands of silkscreen plates).

Authentication and provenance

As ever, authenticity and provenance are crucial – and there are few things to look out for when you’re on the hunt for a Murakami print. Firstly, check for the signature and number, most Murakami prints are signed and editioned.

Secondly, make sure your print arrives with all of the correct documentation. In the case of a Murakami print, you want to be able to prove it has come from Murakami’s KaiKai Kiki factory. These four things will show the provenance of the print; the order form, the invoice, the shipping labels, the original packaging. The order form comes from Hidari Zingaro (the gallery Murakami opened in 2010) at the time of purchase, the invoice arrives with your print inside the box. The shipping labels are the best proof of authenticity as they show where and when Kaikai originally shipped the print and are very difficult to replicate.

Finally, the original packaging – Kaikai Kiki really takes no chances here, they use glassine wrap (closest to the print), brown paper wrap, heavy plastic wrap attached to heavy cardboard, two styrofoam layers, an inner box and an outer box. And remember, if you are in any doubt, MyArtBroker can help you with the authentication process by connecting you with experts who can advise on the provenance of any print you intend to buy.

The condition of your Murakami print

You’re unlikely to have any issues with the condition of a Murakami print but you should still make sure it’s in top notch condition before parting with any cash. Even recent prints are vulnerable to deterioration once exposed to humidity, sunlight or too much heat. If you spot anything like creasing, wrinkling, foxing and folding marks, then the print hasn’t been stored properly and the previous owner should restore it. If you’re in any doubt, ask for a condition report to be carried out by a professional.

Why use MyArtBroker to find prints by Takashi Murakami?

At MyArtBroker we offer a safe and simple solution to buyers, connecting you directly with our expert brokers, who, whether you’re a new or seasoned collector, can assist you in purchasing a print by Murakami.

Your personal broker will work with you to find the piece you’re looking for at the price you’re willing to pay through our large network of collectors looking to buy and sell daily. Our experts will also condition check and authenticate artworks, so you can have confidence before you buy, as well as helping to arrange delivery.

We offer both the sense of trust and comfort that comes with meeting with a specialist personally, as well as the efficiency, transparency and ease of a personal but online process.

Our global network consists of over 30,000 collectors buying and selling works daily, as well as dealers, collectors, galleries and independent experts that work with us to ensure we can offer authentic Takashi Murakami prints in good condition. Our website has 40,000 visitors every month, and we regularly publish pieces tracking the artist’s market performance, keep up to date with new works, auction results and news, as well as offering an updated artist biography and informative essays on Takashi Murakami editions.

MyArtBroker has access to a worldwide network of art collectors selling Murakami artworks, so get in touch with us today if you’re interested in buying an Murakami print and we’ll talk you through the process.