Updated March 2021
“Should we bank on rising Banksy prices?” asked an article in The Telegraph in July 2018. The piece advised caution. Nearly three years on, the answer is clear – yes, we certainly should.
One year since the start of the global pandemic, the Banksy market has flourished while others have struggled. The record-breaking sale of Devolved Parliament for £9.9 million in October 2019 reinvigorated the demand for Banksy masterpieces. In October 2020, Show Me The Monet was among the top 10 most expensive artworks by a contemporary artist at auction. This March, Game Changer shook the world, realising millions for the NHS, and setting a new auction record for a work by Banksy.
While the value for other established and highly investable street artists like KAWS and Keith Haring saw a gentle decline in demand, Banksy is now ranked Number 2 in Artnet’s ‘Most Bankable’ list of contemporary artists – behind the late, great graffiti artist, Jean-Michel Basquiat.
International demand continues to boom for Banksy’s art. At recent auctions, bidders came from the UK, Europe, Asia, America and even the Virgin Islands. Now, it is the norm that auction houses like Christie’s and Sotheby’s offer not only original Banksy paintings in their star-studded evening sales, but also dedicate multiple sales to Banksy prints each year to attract buyers at a more accessible price point. Banksy, once an outlier, is now – however uncomfortably – part of the establishment.
Q1 2021 IS ALREADY 91% OF 2020’S TOTAL SALES
£19.6million worth of Banksy prints have been sold in the first three months of 2021. This is nearly nine times more than the same period in 2020 (£2.2million), and close to 91% of the total Banksy prints sold in 2020 (£21.6 million).
The average price of a Banksy print has shot up from £56,972 in 2020 to £85,101 in 2021, although this is swayed by the record-breaking sale of Girl with Balloon – AP Gold for £1.1 million in March 2021. The previous record price for a Banksy print had been set in September 2020, much later in the year.
Q1 2020 contributed to 10% of the annual total. If Q1 2021 is the same, then the projected sale of Banksy prints for this year is £190million, the equivalent of 11 Game Changer paintings. But this comparison is unlikely given how different the art market was back in Q1 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic was only just starting to take effect and auction houses were still prioritising masterpieces over affordable prints to make up the bulk of their sales. Only time will tell how soon the 2021 Banksy sales will overtake 2020’s total, but one thing is for certain: the only way is up.
THE MOST EXPENSIVE BANKSY EDITION EVER SOLD
Girl with Balloon – AP Gold was the star print of the season. At £1.1million, this rare print sold at Sotheby’s on 25 March 2021 is worth close to 6% of the entire Q1 2021 sale total (£19.6 million). It is the first Banksy edition to achieve over £1million and has sold for more than double the next-highest Banksy print in Q1 2021. So while the Banksy market has indeed skyrocket- ed in 2021, it is important to keep in mind how much the exceptional result of Girl with Balloon – AP Gold contributed to this success.
MORE BANKSY PRINTS ARE SELLING FOR £50-100K
The meteoric rise of the Banksy print market in 2020 saw a rise in the supply and demand of Banksy unsigned prints, which made up most of the works sold in the £10,000-50,000 price range. Now, many Banksy prints are pushed upwards into the £50,000-100,000 price range and beyond. Star lots, artist proofs and special limited editions have headlined the auctions this Spring. The number of prints sold for £100,000-500,000 in Q1 2021 have almost exceeded all of 2020.
These figures suggest the market is becoming more structured, with the biggest divide between merchandise and memorabilia (accounting for most multiples sold below £10,000) and authenticated prints sitting well beyond that (between £30,000-100,000). Over a decade ago, in 2008, the market looked very different with the vast majority of Banksy prints selling below £5,000.
In 2020, we saw demand surge for Banksy prints. This year has seen a boost in supply and the market stabilising slightly. However, the sale of Game Changer on 23 March 2021 showed the insatiable desire for Banksy’s work. The painting was estimated around £2.5-3.5million but sold for £16.8million after a prolonged bidding war.
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