Investment Spotlight | April 2020
Banksy’s signed prints and editions: the most lucrative investment on the market
Buying a print by Banksy might be the most lucrative investment out there right now. Here we take a fascinating look at how investing in the illusive artist’s signed print market measures up against more traditional investments in the current market.
Owning a work officially accredited to Banksy offers a chance to be a part of his illusive legacy, to own a slice of the iconic brand, but there is also almost no equal opportunity to be found financially elsewhere, especially in comparison to the current state of other traditional methods of investment.
Early Banksy collectors were among the lucky few who either spotted the opportunity, or simply fell for the (then relatively unheard of) Bristolian graffiti artist. 150 lucky buyers purchased Banksy’s signed print of Girl with Balloon in 2004 for just £150, an unsigned print cost just £74.99. One of those very same signed prints sold at Sotheby’s in September 2019 for £260,000, including the buyer’s premium at auction, which equates to 25% plus VAT. That means those who have traded in signed Girl with Balloon editions since then have seen an extraordinary average annualised return of 56% on their investment, or a staggering 233,000% return over the 16 year period.
More recently in March 2020, during the first week of lockdown (when the rest of the world was bracing for impact) a pink version of Girl with Balloon achieved a staggering £375,000 in a Sotheby’s online sale; whilst another version of the more common red balloon made £106,250.
However, whilst Girl with Balloon was voted the nation’s favourite art work, and seems to be the jewel in the crown for many collectors, there is no print in Banksy’s output that hasn’t reaped its owners reward in the last decade, and while some asset classes offer more than sheer capital growth, and some that benefit from spikes that outweigh the consistency of more stable assets, we’ve struggled to find one as good as Banksy prints and editions.
In order to address and compare the signed Banksy prints and editions market with traditional markets we sought to find you the most useful information available, and not – as many do – focus solely on the most successful signed works in Banksy’s prints’ catalogue. Here we present the value increase of Banksy’s entire signed prints catalogue over the last decade. To do so we used both an average and variable rate of return on all signed prints sold through public auction to demonstrate the appreciation of value across the board.
Banksy vs Property
The above graph illustrates the percentage value increase in property prices in the UK, according to Nationwide data between 2011 and 2020, against the Banksy print market in the same time frame. Whilst property has long been billed as a passive investment for long-term stability, offering both capital and income growth with obvious ongoing potential in the form of rent, the financial return doesn’t come close to the year on year consistent return that an investor in Banksy print’s has seen in the last ten years. It is also worth considering the comparison of the cost of storing a print – in the right hands it can cost as little as nothing – in contrast to the upkeep of any property portfolio.
Now, more than ever, property is likely to see a downward trend during these turbulent times. Will Dickson, Chief Investment Manager at P1 Investment Management gave us his insight this week on the property market: ‘with the Coronavirus pandemic ongoing, and the resulting freeze in any housing market activity, economic disruption and the likely rising levels of unemployment, there is significant uncertainty in property values, as with most asset classes.’
Banksy vs Gold
So, what about gold? In a crisis there has always been gold, and predictably – whilst no one quite knows where it’s heading – its reputation as a steady and consistent asset in troubled times is proving true with nearly three times that of last year’s average investors buying in the last month, according to the BullionVault. P1 Investment Management commented ‘gold has done particularly well so far this year as investors have fled to safe havens. Lower interest rates and the redeployment of quantitative easing by Central Banks have also increased the attractiveness of gold.’
But, in reality gold has delivered investors just 1.8% on average since 2010. The trickier years, such as 2013, when the market value decreased by 21% and 2015 by 9% saw investors unwilling to sell when they wanted or needed. Certainly if you’re looking for a safe place to sit out the storm, gold is still a good option, but if you’re in the business of making money the Banksy market offers a far better option, it’s trajectory is upwardly steady and seems unaffected by the world around it.
Banksy vs Oil
The oil market can be very confusing to investors, with large price fluctuations sometimes occurring on a daily basis, often it is seen as a portfolio diversifier and a hedge against inflation but as the above graph shows it is no match to the steady climb of the Banksy market in the last 10 years with recent significant dips in value since 2014. Current pricing is lower than ever.
Banksy vs Stocks
For this example, we’re going to consider Amazon stock specifically. Amazon, like Banksy, is disruptive, worldwide, and world-class. Recognition of this brand has grown over a similar timespan as Banksy’s reputation which makes it a rather interesting comparison.
As one might expect given the domineering position of Amazon in the ecommerce market and its strategy of acquiring brands in other markets, Amazon stocks are growing in value annually. There have been a few particular leaps in value over the last few years , the jump in 2018 saw Amazon Stocks rise suddenly 150% above the asset value of your average Banksy signed print. Since then, however, it has shown slight fluctuation and slowed right down.
Banksy vs Equities
Historically, equities have outstripped safer investments, acting as apparent drivers in a portfolio . However, investment in shares always exposes you to the potential to make huge gains as much as it does to lose huge sums of money, which is why they’re often seen as the riskiest asset class. The data above shows data from the FTSE 100 across the past ten years, It is easy to see the vast disparity in equities against Banksy print value in the last decade both in terms of value and stability since 2012.
If these figures aren’t convincing enough, we spoke to the experts at P1 Investment Management on the matter of investing in a Banksy against other leading asset classes, and this is what they had to said: “The meteoric rise of Banksy has helped prices outstrip even some of the best performers in the stock market.”
Banksy’s cult status, heralded for his satirical subversive statements, skyrocketed after the shredding stunt of 2018, since then Gross Domestic Product, and multiple other Banksy ‘moments’ have driven interest in the artist and his work, he is consistent and innovative, a trait that will keep him at the forefront of the art world for many years to come.
Where to start:
Around 70 print releases of Banksy works have been made in the past 18 years, totalling an estimated 30,000 prints altogether. It’s estimated that one-third of these prints have been signed by the artist himself, these signed pieces being in extremely high demand adds significant value to at least 10,000 pieces out there in the world right now.
With such extraordinary potential in the market, we are asked regularly where to start, and – quite shortly after – whether those with smaller budgets need not apply. As with any asset there is of course a more affordable end. Banksy produced prints in editions of 150, 600, 750, and 1,000, the larger the print run normally means the lower the price, due to lesser demand. The variant also allows investors to reach the market at a variety of more accessible price points. Sotheby’s recently sold the print Flag for £11,875. Who knows where this will be in another 10 years.
We are however sure that in 10 years time auction houses will have exhausted their remaining client base still willing to part with 15% plus fees to sell their prints and multiples – a category much more suitable to private online sales and thriving within it. Note: we offer 0% as standard to sell any print in the artist markets we specialise in, because we know we can find a suitable buyer for your work.
Equally if you are a buyer, our Banksy Buyer’s Guide includes some excellent tips to help you choose the right piece. You’ll find advice on how to accredit a Banksy, and highlight how the popularity of certain Banksy images, such as Girl With Balloon, can affect their price.
If you want to start a conversation around investing in a Banksy, or are ready to reap the rewards of a previously well-thought out investment, then we are here to help. With a worldwide network of dealers, private collectors, galleries and independent specialists a dedicated art broker will ensure that your experience whether buying or selling Banksy work is unrivalled.