As the owner or potential buyer of a masterpiece, auction is a wonderful place to buy and sell truly unique original paintings. But do private sales trump auction when it comes to buying and selling prints and editions? 

Banksy’s most expensive works are wonderful examples of how the spectacle of auction works its magic. You only have to watch the sale of his painting Devolved Parliament to see how the saleroom, telephone and internet full of bidders made prices soar to obtain a once-in-a lifetime opportunity for a specific work of art.

Watch the auction of Banksy’s Devolved Parliament at Sotheby’s

However, do not be lured in by an auction house’s dedicated online-only Banksy sales, which comprises mainly of prints. While auction houses like Christie’s and Sotheby’s have sourced and sold some exceptionally rare prints at record-breaking prices – such as Sotheby’s recent sale of Girl with Balloon – Colour AP (Gold) for £1.1million, estimated at just £400,000-600,000 – the fees you’ll pay to sell your Banksy print at these blue-chip institutions can be staggering. The return at auction is also rarely more than if you sold the same print on the private market.

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‘I Can’t Believe You Morons Actually’… Sell Like This?

Banksy Morons Signed Print

Banksy’s I Can’t Believe You Morons Actually Buy This Shit

The very nature of editions means there is never just one chance to buy an artwork, making the fundamentals of auction frankly much less exciting for all concerned.

With editions, if the price isn’t right for the buyer at that moment of sale, there is no particular incentive to keep bidding. A prints auction (whether live or online), lacks the once-in-a-lifetime energy reserved for a masterpiece. There is always an opportunity elsewhere for a print from the same series. In the case of Girl with Balloon – Colour AP (Gold), as an edition of 88, there are another 87 potential opportunities.

Here’s our guide to why so many Banksy print sellers are reconsidering auction, in favour of the convenience and reach of private sales.

With major contemporary art collectors looking for the best return on their investments, it’s no wonder the trends are favouring online platforms offering the same global reach and world-class expertise as leading auction houses, for a fraction of the price.

If you are looking to sell your Banksy print exactly when you want, without cost, and without ever having to move the work until it’s sold (these are the demands of most of our clients), then most auction houses simply can’t accommodate, due to their pre-planned calendar and the overheads of running their traditional model.

At MyArtBroker, our objective is to return you the same as you would have at auction, at a time convenient to you, on your terms, and without risk. Our seller’s fees are always at 0%. You have the ability to sell whenever you want, at the very best time to release the value of your work. As far as Banksy goes, we own the largest dedicated international online network of buyers and sellers of contemporary and modern prints and editions in the world, and as a specialist online platform, that audience is undiluted and focuses primarily on Banksy.

“There are few better opportunities for financial growth to be found… Banksy is a growing investment asset for those looking to diversify their portfolio, and we’re very pleased to be able to offer one of the few dedicated networks of like-minded collectors to service that growing need.” Ian Syer, Founder of MyArtBroker

How does auction work?

Auctions work by taking a commission off the buyer and the seller: to sell, you’ll pay 15% of the hammer price, and to buy, you’ll pay 25% of the hammer price plus VAT . The traditional auction model takes food off both sides of the table.

Here’s what to do if you want to buy at auction:

  • You’ll need to wait for the auction date and either be there in person, on a pre-arranged call with a specialist, or you can be logged in online at the right time at the right lot (they recommend allowing 60-100 lots per hour). Or you can leave an absentee bid and hope for the best.
  • Being at the right place, at the right time, is essential.

Here’s what to do if you want to sell at auction:

  • Choose an auction house and approach them. First off is the task of finding the right auction for your Banksy print, this will be in consultation with one the house’s specialists, who will normally want to see your work in person. They will advise on pricing strategy, and then suggest which sale would be best for it.
  • Once everything is decided between you and the specialist, an administrator will contact you with your paperwork. It will be then be up to you to manage and pay for your work to be shipped to the auction house’s storage facility ahead of the auction.
  • The slated auction will likely be a few months down the line as auction seasons are static. Even if the auction is soon, consignment deadlines are usually 2 to 3 months prior.
  • You may even be asked, particularly with a print, to wait until the next auction after, especially if the house has a print from the same series already consigned. This is so that two prints from the same series don’t depreciate each other.
  • If your work sells at auction, you will receive payment a few weeks after the sale completes. Auction houses such as Christie’s also charge a 2% Performance Commission fee in the event that your print sells for above the high estimate you agreed with the specialist.
  • If your work doesn’t sell, you’ll be expected to manage and pay for the safe return of your work, and pay the unsold fees to the auction house – often 1.5% of the average of the high and low estimate they catalogue it at. You will then have anything from two weeks to one month to collect the unsold work from their storage facility before it starts accruing storage fees.

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How do auction fees work?

The seller’s commission at major auction houses, such as Christie’s or Sotheby’s, is 15%, on top of that you’ll be asked to pay shipping, LDL (loss, damage and liability insurance), as well as a hefty marketing and cataloguing fee. These are negotiable fees when it comes to consignment. In the case of masterworks, an auction house might offer to waive the cost of selling for works of great value. They rarely offer the same waiver, however, for their Prints and Multiples auctions.

The buyer’s commission is 25% on anything you bid up to and including £450,000. You’ll then pay VAT on that commission, and in most cases you’ll be required to produce identification details prior to bidding.

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What does it cost to sell privately, via MyArtBroker?

Nothing – we now offer 0% seller’s fee, guaranteed, with no hidden fees.

You make contact, we assign you a dedicated broker, you agree a price, we offer your work immediately, and start looking for a buyer. Once a buyer is found and the funds are cleared, we pay for and help ship the work direct, no storage facility needed. That’s it. We do not ask that the work leaves your possession during sale, though we can recommend and facilitate storage if you need us to. We do not hold you to a date to offer your work, neither do we charge for marketing it to our 10,000 strong collector network.

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How does MyArtBroker offer this service at 0% sellers commission and auction houses can’t?

Having operated in the Banksy editions market since its heyday in 2010, we’ve been listening to our buyers and sellers and adapted the platform and network in a way that’s important to them. Our optimised service means we do not have many of the same overheads attached to running a traditional auction house, allowing us to invest heavily in digital innovation and marketing your work to our network. Read more in our Testimonials.

For buyers, we offer you the time to carefully consider each purchase without the pressures of a live auction, and we can bring a greater selection of artworks to market in a simple, secure way. Our brokers are specialists in their fields and as we act as a conduit between you and sellers. We pride ourselves on balanced market advice to first-time buyers and sellers.

Should you sell your print online?

If you’re planning to sell your prints yourself online, we recommend you speak to experts first and do not try to enter this field alone. Art will always be a tangible and very personal investment – online platforms alone, no matter how smart, will not be enough to cater to the new collecting market or the previous generation of collectors with substantial inventory.

When you buy or sell with MyArtBroker, your experienced personal broker can guide you through the whole process, find the right artwork or buyer, and even offer to handle the process of authentication, price negotiation, and delivery.

This personal and comprehensive service is on par with the attention that auction houses give to their top Evening Sale clients buying and selling unique masterpieces.

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How to sell art safely online?

Use a secure platform, read their testimonials and speak to experts. Although there is growing trust in the online art trade, platforms such as eBay still stumble when it comes to the issue of artist authenticity. The Banksy market is riddled with fakes, even with his Pest Control Certificate of Authenticity. Buying through a fine art professional offers absolute assurance and our brokers can help guide you in the right direction.

We offer the opportunity to post listings for wanted artworks within a global community of buyers and sellers – ideal for collectors searching for particular works that are more difficult to come by. Search and post Art Wanted here.

With 75% of new online buyers stating that they were driven by value potential more than any other motivator in 2020, it’s easy to see why both buyers and sellers are moving away from the traditional auction house, and towards online private sales. Join us today.

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