While his paintings reach record prices at auction, Warhol’s prints offer a much more accessible starting point for collectors. Before you buy, however, here are a few important points to consider.
Famed for his commercial approach to art and adoption of the silkscreen method of printing, which allowed him to reproduce his images in bright block colours, Andy Warhol is widely considered to be the father of Pop Art. Obsessed with fame and consumer culture, he revolutionised the art world with his portraits of the beautiful and the damned of Hollywood and Studio 54 alike, as well as his canny elevation of everyday objects and products, such as the Campbell’s Soup can and the Brillo Box, to the status of high art.
It all began with a publicity shot of Marilyn Monroe which Warhol blew up shortly after her death in 1962 and proceeded to reproduce thousands of times in countless colourways, turning it into one of the most recognisable works of art in the world. Soon he was taking other famous faces, applying his signature pops of colour and fashioning them into instant icons, guaranteeing their fame would last longer than the 15 minutes he predicted we would all experience. And it didn’t stop there – famous works from the history of art by Leonardo, Botticelli and other old masters were also given the Warhol treatment along with world-changing news events, such as the race riots in Alabama, and even endangered animals.
The backdrop of this prolific output was the Factory, Warhol’s studio-cum-production line where his many muses and admirers would hang out and make music and films that have come to define the counterculture of the 60s and 70s. It was here that Warhol would be shot by radical feminist Valerie Solanas in 1968 and while he lived to tell the tale and make more work, he would go on to suffer complications from a gall bladder operation in 1987 which led to his death at the age of 59.
While his earlier prints and unique paintings remain unaffordable to most collectors, there is a large portfolio of editions that start from just £1000. But as with any category on the secondary market, there are many things to consider before buying a Warhol, from condition and provenance to trends and fluctuations in the market. Here at MyArtBroker we can guide you through every step of the buying and selling process and offer free and confidential advice on the best time to grow your collection.
How much does an Andy Warhol cost?
Whether made in the 60s, the 70s or the 80s, Warhol’s work still looks as fresh and contemporary as the day it was made so it comes as no surprise that results show the artist consistently outstripping his contemporaries at auction, selling for an average price of just under $80 million compared to just under $60 million for Roy Lichtenstein and $30 million for Robert Rauschenberg. However, while it’s the big canvases that make the headlines, reports also indicate that works by Warhol valued between £1,000 and £10,000 make up more than 30% of the artist’s lots sold at auction, highlighting the importance of prints and multiples on the market.
For just £1,000 collectors can get their hands on his exquisite A Gold Book portfolio, which dates back to the days when the artist was still making a living as a fashion illustrator and window dresser, along with the charming book In the Bottom of my Garden which can be found for £3,500. His Flash series from 1968 is perhaps the most affordable series of prints that encapsulates Warhol’s fascination with celebrities, the media and tragedy, featuring images of JFK and Jackie.
Other iconic works for under £10,000 include his lesser known Fish Wallpaper, made for an exhibition in Zurich in 1983, and Committee 2000, a take on the traditional still life genre showing remnants of wild nights at Studio 54 and the Factory. Between £10,000 and £15,000 collectors can find portraits in his signature style based on polaroids he took of physician and philanthropist Mildred Scheel and also the drag queen community of New York, in his famous Ladies and Gentlemen series.
How much would his prints have sold for in the 60s?
Warhol’s earliest prints were sold for as little as $100–$1,500 or even given away as the method of printing made the work cheap to reproduce in large edition sizes and the prints were treated more like disposable posters. This led to the prints not being cared for in the same way they would be now, which has resulted in many being lost or damaged.
How many are still on the market?
It is thought that Warhol produced 448 separate editions of prints, both as standalone works and wider portfolios such as the Soup Cans, the Marilyns and Maos which all feature a number of different colourways. In total, 85,311 editioned artworks are estimated to have been created by Warhol and his assistants, excluding the unique silkscreen prints onto paper. Many of Warhol’s prints were made in editions of 200 or 250 while others, such as the Mildred Scheel series which was made for a charity fundraiser, were produced in small editions of 15 or 20. Appealing to all generations and budgets, the demand for Warhol is always strong and consignment numbers for his work tend to outstrip most other artists.
What factors impact the value of a Warhol?
As with most artists the rarity of an edition, the presence of a signature, the size and condition of the work and the date it was made tend to be the strongest factors in determining the price of a Warhol. However certain other criteria apply to the Pop artist’s work, such as the colours used or the historical importance of the subject. Often the reason an artwork reaches a record price is hard to put your finger on but suffice to say that everyone knows an icon when they see one and Warhol has long been considered a barometer of the health of the market, to the point where he has been called the ‘One-Man Dow Jones’ of the art world.
Most often it is the price history and provenance that determines value, along with current market trends which can be hard to predict. In 2006 the market for Warhol was booming but the global crash that came two years later led to prices sinking dramatically as demand fell. By 2010 however the market had readjusted and has continued to grow ever since; according to Artnet, Warhol’s works made a combined $150.3 million at auction in the first half of 2019 alone, more than any other artist in the sector.
How can you be sure of authenticity?
Authenticity is a concern for collectors across all parts of the secondary market and Warhol, whose large – and originally undocumented – edition sizes and mechanical method of production, seems ripe for forgeries. However buyers can be (somewhat) reassured by the institution that is the Andy Warhol Foundation, set up after his death to authenticate and promote his work. Spanning five volumes, the enormous catalogue raisonné published by the foundation and Phaidon covers some 3,000 artworks and continues to be expanded. If a piece is not listed there it is not considered an authentic Warhol. A separate catalogue raisonné also exists for prints which is now in its fourth edition and includes sections on his illustrated books and portfolios from the 1950s, before his meteoric rise to fame. Many independent advisors, as well as auction houses, also offer unofficial authentication services, and here at MyArtBroker we are happy to help clarify a piece’s provenance if you are concerned.
Where can you buy a Warhol print?
As well as auction houses there are many galleries selling Andy Warhol prints, but be warned of the whopping buyers premium you’ll pay. Equally, there are less credible options which can be found on eBay and other websites.
At MyArtBroker we offer a safe and simple solution to buyers, connecting you directly with our expert brokers, who can assist you with buying a Warhol print from our large network of collectors. Our brokers will also authenticate and check the condition of artworks, so you can be confident about your investment, as well as helping to arrange shipping. 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 buying online.