UPDATED March 2021
Thinking about selling a Banksy collection or your Banksy print? It can seem a daunting process, but our guide will make it easy to understand all the important variables and how to sell for the best price.
The first question you might ask is “How much is my Banksy worth?”
And much like with anything else to do with the elusive artist, the answer is – it depends. But don’t worry, we are here to guide you through all the important considerations (and MyArtBroker’s approach to selling Banksy has been recommended by Street Art Bio in their article ‘How to Sell a Banksy: Best in Class‘).
- Have proof your Banksy is real
- The condition of your Banksy print
- Is your Banksy signed or unsigned?
- Find the best time to sell a Banksy print
- How much does a Banksy print sell for?
- Selling with an auction house vs online vs privately
Banksy is avidly scornful of the art market, writing in his book Wall and Piece: “When you go to an art gallery you are simply a tourist looking at the trophy cabinet of a few millionaires”. The mischievous artist has a long history of formulating tongue-in-cheek critiques of the commercial art world through his work.
One of his earlier works from 2006, Morons, stated: “I can’t believe you morons buy this shit” and in 2018 at Sotheby’s Auction House, his Girl with Balloon print theatrically shredded itself moments after it had been sold for just over £1m. In 2019, Banksy even set up a guerrilla art shop, Gross Domestic Product, offering all his artworks for sale for a limited time in a further subversion of the formal art industry process.
However, Banksy’s provocative approach vis-a-vis the art market shouldn’t keep you from selling one of his works – he might make fun of you for it, but you’ll be the one to reap the benefits. To ensure your Banksy ends up in the right hands, for the right price, in the right condition and at the right time, here’s our advice for selling a Banksy.
Our top tips for selling a Banksy
Provide proof your Banksy is authentic
Any buyer’s first concern will, and should be, with provenance – nobody wants to buy a fake. Make sure you keep any paperwork pertaining to the piece’s purchase. Without this, the selling price will dip considerably and most auction houses, dealers or galleries will refuse to accept it.
If you bought your Banksy print recently, it should already come with a Certificate of Authentication (CoA) from Pest Control, the handling service who has acted on behalf of Banksy since 2009. By which we mean, they are the handling service – there is no other organisation representing Banksy in any legitimate capacity. All Banksy prints come from Pest Control, and legitimate pieces will be authenticated by them.
If you bought your Banksy before 2009, for example from Pictures on Walls (POW), you can contact Pest Control to confirm your work is genuine. This can take from two weeks to two years – they almost always have a large backlog (read our guide on verifying your piece with Pest Control).
Pest Control never authenticates Banksy street artworks, partially because Banksy intended these to be a part of public space, and partially to avoid his implication in any criminal activity. They also won’t be able to tell you the value of your Banksy piece, but simply confirm if it’s legitimate.
The condition of your Banksy print
The condition of a piece will affect its value. If your Banksy print is not in perfect condition, it might be necessary to restore the piece, which will require expert involvement to assess and amend the damage. For example, we work with several trusted conservation specialists who perform restoration and can point you in the right direction if you need the help.
Pictures of Walls (the sole publisher of Banksy’s prints) mainly produce prints on wove paper. Early works were printed on thinner stocks than later ones, and are therefore more vulnerable to damage.
One of the most common problems for prints is the paper becoming cockled or ‘wavy’. Paper can contort over time due to changes in the atmosphere, humidity and temperature. It will then need to be pressed and flattened.
Sometimes tape will need to be removed from the back of the print – if this is not done by a professional it can result in skinning. When the tape is removed some of the paper fibres are lifted off the paper, which becomes effectively damaged and reduces the artwork’s value.
Is your Banksy signed or unsigned?
Banksy’s prints come in signed and unsigned numbered editions, as well as artist’s proofs. There are usually 600-750 unsigned editions and 150 signed editions per print.
Signed editions are, normally, more desirable and will fetch a higher price because they are rarer. But due to the phenomenal demand for any Banksy artworks, unsigned limited-edition prints are also highly collectable right now. The average price of an unsigned Banksy print increased by 280% from 2020-19, while the average price of a signed Banksy print increased by 217% from 2020-19.
As for unnumbered test proofs, these are used by Banksy to test inks and the design of the piece and are generally less valuable than numbered signed/unsigned prints, but still highly collectable.
Find the best time to sell a Banksy print
It’s worth thinking carefully about when you sell – if a similar piece is on the secondary market you don’t want to compete against each other and drive prices down. Wait until there seems to be a gap or evidence of a desire for the Banksy you are selling. Interest in Banksy can starkly rise depending on his activities.
For instance, demand was high after Banksy’s Sotheby’s auction stunt in 2018, his prank on the Venice Biennale in 2019 presenting the kitsch work Venice in Oil that gained him over 40,000 Instagram views, when the famous British rapper Stormzy wore a Union Jack vest designed by Banksy at his 2019 Glastonbury performance and when he donated a piece (Game Changer) to the NHS in May 2020.
If a major art gallery or museum– such as the Tate Modern, or MoMA – held a Banksy exhibition that would also help his stock rise hugely. It’s our job to keep an eye on the current demand within the Banksy market, so don’t hesitate to get in touch if we can help you navigate this.
How to estimate the value of your Banksy print
As most Banksy pieces come in a series of multiple prints, it’s easy to get a sense of market value by looking at recent sales prices online and researching Banksy auction prices across the major auction houses.
Of course, Banksy pieces regularly go under the hammer and generate headline-making figures which set the market for Banksy’s work overall. But there is a thriving market for Banksy pieces which means its often possible to find prices for work similar to yours.
It’s even possible to use eBay as a research tool. Go to the Advanced Search option and type in “[print name] + Banksy + Pest Control” (to search for listings with an official Pest Control CoA). You also want to select the Art category and the option to search for sold listings. You’ll then see the prices that (supposedly) legitimate pieces have reached.
This research can give you a benchmark from where to start, then adjusting for some of the main considerations we’ve covered above such as condition, authentication, market and if your print is signed.
Signed, numbered prints are valued more highly than test proofs (the un-numbered proofs made to test out inks and the look of the piece), but all are collectable within the right market conditions.
Auction house vs online auction vs private sale
The final practical decision when it comes to selling your Banksy is how to make the sale. The main options are through an auction house, via and online platform, or through a private sale.
Obviously, we’re big fans of private sales and believe it helps both buyers and sellers, which is why we do it. But there are advantages and disadvantages to all the methods. Deciding on the right platform to sell a Banksy will depend on your own level of confidence and expertise in the art market.
Selling via an auction house:
If you decide to go with an auction house, they will appraise your work for free and help you set a reserve price. Their specialists will determine authenticity, condition and value for the piece. An advantage of auction houses is that they will often have a good audience of collectors – and Banksy has a strong market – so for a one-off original sometimes it makes good sense, and you might find a better price than you would via private sale.
However, on the day of the auction, luck will play a significant role and you may be up against similar lots that have the potential to weaken the appeal of your piece. For prints, it’s rarely the most cost-effective way of reaching a buyer. You’ll also have to wait 2-3 months for a sale date and you’ll have to cover transport costs and the substantial fee – often up to 15% off the seller. We put together a guide that looks at some of the pros and cons of selling at auction.
Selling via an online auction:
Many new sellers turn to public online platforms with a guaranteed large audience, such as eBay. These can offer huge audience exposure plus the ability to tailor your listing as you want, set rates for delivery, add a minimum price and more – all for a small commission fee.
There is however a greater risk of fraudulent buyers, time-wasters and crucially, less of your target collector audience. You’ll also be solely responsible for setting the value of your Banksy and without the expertise.
Selling privately via a broker:
Selling through a private brokerage (such as MyArtBroker) can often be a good bet for the inexperienced than going through an auction. Private brokers give you access to a network of clients they know well and who will be interested in your Banksy.
Private brokers can also help you with questions around authenticity, how to set realistic prices and supply potential buyers at a much more leisurely pace than the stress of an auction.
This patience does go both ways. Buyers through brokers will often be savvy, and less inclined to offer the above-estimate prices that auctions can bring. You also need to find a broker who you can trust to provide the buying market you need to maximise your artwork’s potential.
Bring it all together:
You might not reach the record heights set by the most famous pieces, but you can now have the knowledge of what to consider when it comes to selling your Banksy.
Making the most of your investment comes down to understanding what you have for sale and its relative value in the current market. Banksy is hugely popular, so if you are ready to sell a piece and cash in on your investment, do your homework, find the best market and present your art in the best possible way.
If you’d like any more advice on how to sell a Banksy, just let us know. Our brokers’ expertise when it comes to Banksy is second to none.
Why sell with MyArtBroker?
MyArtBroker will introduce you to your own personal broker who will find you a buyer and guide you through the process without any charge to you. As a specialist network of Banksy collectors, we have buyers looking for specific works all the time so it will often be a swift process to find a buyer for your work. Our brokers will help you with authenticity and condition checking, offer advice on realistic sale prices and of the optimal time to sell plus manage the negotiation from start to finish.
As we value your prints as much as you do, our brokers will always ensure they negotiate the best price for you. Even better, it’s free to sell!
With over 10,000 collectors buying and selling artwork daily, and over 40,000 visitors to our website every month, at MyArtBroker we have a worldwide network of private collectors, brokers and galleries to help you find the right buyer at the right price.
Our online platform also lets us market your piece discreetly, saving you the hassle of dealing with potential buyers or the stress of an auction. It also means your artwork is on display 24 hours a day reaching your target market while you get with other things.
Selling a Banksy with us can happen extraordinarily quickly. With our network and the high demand for prints, our brokers might find you a buyer to pay for and collect the artwork within as little as 48hrs.