The Banksy market for prints and editions has become one of the most in demand segments of the art market in recent years. As the global pandemic has brought much of the world to a standstill over 100 Banksy prints have sold in 2020 for well in excess of their presale estimates and values have shot up 83% since the beginning of the year.
However, with the sharp increase in prices realised for Banksy works in a very small space of time, is there a risk the market could be about to burst? How many collectors with already large inventories are pumping the market for works only to swamp it again in the coming months?
What Goes Up, Must Come Down
With a surge in demand and a finite supply there is rumour the curve in the historical growth may be coming. With the headlines reporting a feeding frenzy around the Banksy editions market it’s trickier than ever to decide when to sell. It’s worth bearing in mind that public auction values are just the tip of the iceberg, because (as well upholding the historical lack of transparency in the art market and charging well over 25% of the hammer in seller commission, marketing and insurance fees) auction results don’t show the activity on the private market, where much of the activity is being generated. We’ve seen a huge spike in demand over the last 9 months as the landscape of the global pandemic has given rise to new investors looking to diversify their portfolios. Much of the historical structural increase has been caused by dealers and collectors trading Banksy prints as chips, with clients upgrading and swapping works between themselves. There will always be winners and losers.
Where is the demand coming from?
We’re seeing a growing number of private investors looking to buy Banksy prints from the Middle East, Japan and America, whilst the UK market continues to grow. The last few months have seen investors seeking to cash in on more unstable but traditional investments and park their money in a safer space, and one with some liquidity in the current climate – a Banksy print makes sense from all angles. You can read more about the comparison between more traditional assets such as oil, gold and equities in our Banksy Investment Guide.
It has been widely reported that more than half of the buyers in the recent Sotheby’s sale were bidding for the first time. Girl with Balloon (2004) realised five times its presale low estimate of £80,000, received 24 bids from around the world, and sold for a final £438,500. The seller however will likely only see half of this, once they have paid the seller’s commission, plus fees, such as LDL and marketing charges. The traditional auction model takes food off both sides of the table, meaning both the seller and the buyer pay far higher than they need to. If you’re considering where to sell your Banksy print find out more in our Guide to Auction v’s Private Sale. You can sell for free with MyArtBroker, and receive a valuation within 12 hours.
What are buyers looking for?
One of the marked differences you notice in the Banksy market versus other contemporary print markets is the question of condition. When the prints were first released they were sold for such small prices they weren’t considered fine works of art and therefore in many cases they were not cared for in the way that one might expect for a work worth upwards of £400,000 in today’s market. This means that when one finds a work like Girl with Balloon – a relatively early release – in pristine condition it will be in extremely high demand. To find out more about how the condition of your Banksy can affect its value read our Guide to Caring for Your Banksy Print.
As well as unsigned and signed editions now demanding higher prices, the value of your work can change radically in a short time span, you can request a valuation here and hear back from us within 12 hours.
Banksy’s artist proofs (works created in the first stages of producing a full series, where the artist checks the work before committing to a final proof) are also demanding extraordinary prices on the public and private market. These are often considered more special due to their uniqueness and are relatively rare. Girl with Balloon was released in an edition of 150 signed, and 600 unsigned prints, as well as 88 artist’s proofs which include variations where the balloon was printed in different colourways, including gold, purple and pink. Girl with Balloon featuring a purple balloon sold at Christie’s in September 2020 realising twice its high estimate at £791,250. Read our guide to the most expensive Banksy works ever sold through auction.
So, why is the Banksy market thriving in 2020 while other markets struggle?
1. Authentication & Pest Control
Banksy’s authentication body – Pest Control, has created a bulletproof certification structure. It is true that fakes are all too easy to come by, but when a work is offered with a verified Pest Control Certificate – something we can advise on if you have any concerns, you can be 100% sure of its authenticity, without the need for the work to be shipped and studied by a series of experts and specialists. The ease at which the secondary market can seek to verify a work by Banksy via Pest Control is in part responsible for the security with which buyers and sellers of Banksy prints and editions can seek works away from highstreet galleries and auction houses. Find out everything you need to know about how to authenticate your work with Pest Control here.
2. Supply and Demand
As with any artist’s market it is always the balance of supply and demand that determines the value of work available and the speed at which the market grows. Banksy hasn’t produced anything on general release since 2010. There are around 130 different variations of his print works, all released in much smaller numbers than that of other printmakers, including approximately 10,000 signed prints. There are also around 20,000 unsigned prints, which, due to Pest Control’s watertight authentication process, are becoming as sought after as Banksy’s signed prints. Banksy latest editions project, Gross Domestic Product, offered fresh work to market in October 2019. The unusual shop appeared overnight in Croydon, South London. Rather than adopting a retail model of first come first served, Banksy decided to make his potential customers answer a question before they could own one of his artworks/products. This, according to the website’s text, would help keep out those who were just buying for investment, along with a polite notice which read, ‘Please refrain from registering at this time if you are a wealthy art collector.’ Pest Control have restricted the sale of works released from entering the secondary market by not yet releasing authentication certificates for any of the works sold. You can find out more about the project in our feature, Gross Domestic Product: The Story So Far.
As well as offering all Banksy works available on our platform for those looking to buy, MyArtBroker also offer a platform to list works they are looking for. This makes our sellers’ lives easier, knowing there is demand for a particular artwork means we have a buyer at our fingertips. Do not hesitate to contact us if you would like to list a work in either way.
3. Prints as a Medium Online
The very nature of prints and editions, produced in multiples with edition numbers and authentication paperwork as the norm, lends itself to being traded without buyers needing to see a work in the flesh.
Since the rise of COVID19 and March’s lockdown auction houses have had to quickly diversify their technology and digital reach. Auction houses, particularly the big three, have long rested on their laurels and the historical gravitas of their brands has got them a long way in charging astronomical fees for the experience of selling at an age old bricks and mortar institution. However, we are seeing many seller’s less than happy to pay the fees associated with digital online alternatives from auction houses, where the grand spectacle of live auction is their resounding USP.
Laurent Issaurat, Head of Art Banking Services, Societe Generale Private Banking recently stated in a Christie’s Magazine :
“In my opinion, beyond the amazing changes driven by the digital technologies, the most important transformations will relate to transparency in the art market, which remains oddly insufficient.
I know this is a highly controversial topic, but I firmly believe that some regulation, aiming at increasing transparency around transactions above certain value-thresholds, would dramatically help the market move towards a more mature stage.”
MyArtBroker is rooted in successful technology to bring our network of buyers and sellers together in one place, whilst still being able to speak one-to-one with every single one of our clients on request. Offering expert care and consultation, with speed and convenience is what we stand for.
Discuss the market with us today
We can offer 0% seller’s fees, free valuations in 12 hours and expert advice for any Banksy artwork because we have a small and specialist team that has focused on the Banksy market since 2010. From the beginning we have sought to remove the smoke and mirrors from the equation, giving seller’s the opportunity to offer their work to the market completely free of charge and to advise you on the best possible solution for your artwork or collection. Do not hesitate to give us a call if we can help in any way.