UPDATED May 2020
If you are in the market for a Banksy, and new to what is a growing investors asset, then there are a few pieces of advice you should be armed with to make sure you find the right piece at the right price.
- Is Banksy a good investment?
- Which Banksy work should you choose?
- What to look for in a genuine piece
- Get a Certificate of Authenticity
- Check the condition of the piece
- How much should you pay?
- Where do I buy a Banksy from?
With his origins in Bristol, Banksy’s public artworks first started appearing on streets and in alleyways featuring his signature aesthetic in the late 1990s.
The clever mix of popular and political imagery with a strong, tongue-in-cheek message quickly gained him the attention of those at the top of the global art market, including gallerists, museums and prestigious collectors alike, not to mention the media and the general public. Just over 20 years later, a stunning £9.9M was realised for Devolved Parliament at Christie’s. The result broke the auction record for Banksy and was timed perfectly with the political climate, depicting the House of Commons hosting a hoard of chimpanzees.
Thankfully, it’s easy today to by an original Banksy piece from a range of places, and prices. While there are the news-worthy auctions with pieces selling for millions of pounds, there are also more affordable editions available to budding collectors.
With a constant finger on the pulse of current events, such as the refugee crisis, the Gaza conflict and Brexit, as well as universal issues such as homelessness, his audience can always count on Banksy to issue public artistic commentary and stir controversy. Whether it is through subversively incorporating a mocking message into the work itself, or shredding his own print right after it sold for £1.4M at auction, he has consistently poked fun at the very art market for whom he has become the golden boy.
With the artist’s prolific output and lasting popularity, there is no time like now to start a collection. In this buyer’s guide, we have assembled all our top advice on acquiring and handling a collection.
Is Banksy art a good investment?
Ever since Banksy broke into the mainstream world of commercial art in the early 2000s the demand for his work has soared year on year. By 2019, he had made it to the top of the pyramid, outrunning Picasso, Da Vinci and Monet as Great Britain’s favourite artist according to popular vote.
The artist has carved himself a huge secondary market of signed and unsigned prints and is featured in every notable contemporary art auction with about 85% of works selling at a higher than the estimated rate in 2019. As he hasn’t released any original prints since Choose your Weapon in 2010, the prices in the existing secondary market are guaranteed to rise.
Top Tips for buying a Banksy
Which Banksy work should I go for?
The initial question you might have upon embarking on building your Banksy collection is where to start – which print should you buy first?
The most sought-after Banksy editions and prints are often those directly inspired by or based on his graffiti pieces. One such iconic print is Girl With a Balloon, voted the UK’s favourite artwork in 2017 with the original dating back to 2002 and only 25 editions made in 2005 that are now highly sought after.
This is the piece that shred itself at the 2018 Sotheby’s Auction after it sold for a then-record price, £1,042,000 only to transform it into a new artwork, Love is In the Bin – now estimated to be worth double the price. It’s the first-ever artwork to be created live during an auction, which the buyer decided to keep.
Banksy’s Rats are another remarkably successful series of prints. Created originally in 2004, works such as Love Rat and Gangsta Rat, are the two most desirable pieces in the edition. There are 750 prints in total in the series with only 150 signed and the rest unsigned. The value increase of these pieces between the years 2008 and 2020 is an incredible 1000%.
Choose Your Weapon, is another favourite, featuring a hooded figure walking Keith Haring’s iconic cartoon dog. This print was released in 19 colours, rarer editions being the bright pink, bright purple and dark orange works, as opposed to the grey print that came in an edition of 100. Since the public release of this print in the same year, Banksy has not released a single original piece for the public, which keeps the value of his secondary market on a constant rise.
Another important consideration is if the piece has Banksy’s signature. Banksy’s prints often come in both signed and unsigned, numbered editions, with more unsigned available. While both are desirable, this does mean that the hand-signed versions are more valuable and collectable.
Of course, if there are certain works that appeal to you as a collector, then those are the right ones to start with!
Always buy genuine:
A Banksy art print is typically a handmade silkscreen with unique colours, on wove art paper, with a crisp resolution which is far superior to a cheap replica or a poster.
Early works such as Rude Copper were printed on a significantly thinner paper stock than the later prints, such as Stop and Search. Original Banksy canvases are usually sprayed on Loxley deep edge boxed canvas. These genuine Banksy prints, signed or unsigned will hold their value. Though of course, they are also not cheap.
Whether you are selling or buying a Banksy, it’s vital to make sure there is a Certificate of Authority (CoA) from Pest Control – They are the handling service for Banksy and no gallery, auction house or collector will accept your piece otherwise.
All Banksy artworks after 2009 come with a Pest Control certificate and it is the only place you can buy (the very rare) new prints by the artist. We’ve put together a Pest Control Guide that explains the process in more detail. They are also the only source of prints on his famously limited primary market. Except for Banksy’s past pop-up stunts in New York in 2014 or in London in 2019 when he opened the storefront, and later online-shop, Gross Domestic Product with 22 original works, Banksy hasn’t released new prints since 2010.
If a piece doesn’t have a certificate, then we don’t recommend buying it (unless you are buying one of his public graffiti works that were never meant for sale – Banksy won’t put his name to these as they were meant for public consumption). You do see fake certificates being listed, so make sure you know what to look for. A fake certificate is usually clear to an expert or, of course, to Pest Control.
There are some older editions that might have a circular stamp saying ‘Pictures on Walls’, dating back to Banksy’s previous handling agency. These can still be authentic; however, the stamp could’ve also been forged and so it’s strongly recommended you seek out expert advice. Other unusual cases might be those aforementioned pieces of street art, which were never meant to be for sale in the first place. They might come with a letter of provenance, but again, it’s safest to consult with specialists.
It’s very important to ensure that a print being sold to you or a work in your collection is in pristine condition. It’s the seller’s responsibility to tend to condition checking and in case it’s necessary, to hire experts to restore a damaged piece. Thus, as a collector, it’s vital that you keep your prints in perfect condition since this will largely affect their value. Any prints and canvases should be kept in a dark place away from sunlight. Works on paper should have UV-protective glass framing.
A lot of Banksy’s art is weathered, but most of his works were sold in pristine condition. That means to retain its value, you need to look after your piece.
An authentic Banksy art print will be on handmade silkscreen with unique colours, on wove art paper with a crisp feel that should tell you it is far better quality than a cheap poster. Rude Copper and similar earlier pieces were on thinner paper stock than the later ones like Stop and Search or Girl with Balloon.
As for original canvases, most commonly they are sprayed on Loxley deep edge boxed canvas. It’s really important for a print in your possession to be looked after properly if you expect it to hold and increase in value on the secondary market.
How much does an original Banksy cost?
Determining the price, whether you are a potential buyer or seller of a chosen Banksy print, is perhaps the second most pivotal step. As always with art, how much it costs depends on how much anyone is prepared to pay for it. There are a few universal facts that can help you navigate the market.
To buy an original Banksy now can cost you literally millions. Even limited-edition prints now sell for thousands of pounds. This means to buy an original Banksy in the secondary market is going to usually set you back thousands rather than hundreds of pounds – a lot of money, but more affordable than might be originally thought.
Perhaps the easiest indicator of a Banksy’s value is whether it’s unsigned or signed. The signature, along with two numbers indicating the total number of prints in the edition and the number of your specific print, should be visible in the lower corner of the print.
Approximately 70 prints were released between 2000 and 2018, resulting in 30,000 editions in various collections and galleries. Only one-third of these were signed, and of course, the rarer pieces are in very high demand. Unsigned prints are also highly marketable, due to the overall demand for Banksy.
Primary market releases are extremely rare and haven’t happened since 2010, however, once a print is first released into the market you can generally expect it to be at its cheapest.
The signed edition of Girl with Balloon was only £150 with screen prints around £25 – now, signed prints from this series on the secondary market can fetch over £200,000. The secondary market made a total of £28 million at auction in 2019. Bear in mind this only includes data from public auctions, the real total inclding private sales will be much higher.
Where can I buy a Banksy?
Banksy hasn’t produced new work in a while, so the Banksy market is currently all based on the secondary market. This means buying from a trusted source is key.
Buy to suit your own taste and your own budget, take expert guidance on value, condition and provenance. Enjoy the piece!
Why consult MyArtBroker when buying?
MyArtBroker offers a secure space to connect you as a buyer with an expert broker. Your personal broker will work with you to find the Banksy you’re looking for at the price you’re willing to pay. Our experts are also ready to help with the condition checking and authentication processes, as well as 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 an online process.
Our global network consists of over 10,000 collectors buying and selling works daily, as well as dealers, collectors, galleries and independent experts globally that work with us to ensure we can offer the most covetable and authentic Banksy works. Our website has 40,000 visitors every month, where we regularly publish pieces tracking the artist’s market performance, keep up to date with new works, auction results and news, as well as offer his updated biography and informative essays on all Banksy editions.
MyArtBroker has access to a worldwide network of art collectors selling Banksy artwork, so get in touch with us if you’re interested in buying a Banksy print.