The market for British artist Bridget Riley is on the rise. Three of her paintings sold for £2 million at auction in 2021, while the average price of her editioned prints has increased by 105% between 2018 to 2021. Joe Syer, MyArtBroker’s Head of Urban & Contemporary, reveals his insights on the market, how to sell your Bridget Riley print and things you should consider.
There are many places to sell your Bridget Riley print, each with advantages and disadvantages, including online marketplaces, auction houses and private brokers like MyArtBroker.
Auction houses have an established reputation for selling Riley prints. They can offer a free auction estimate and advise on your print’s authenticity, condition and market value. But sellers are restricted to the auction house’s calendar, which can be set months in advance regardless of the changes in the market. On the day of the auction, there is no guarantee that your print will sell – some auction houses still charge a fee for unsold artworks. If your print sells successfully, you will need to pay a seller’s fee up to 15% of the hammer price.
“At auction, the sold price is not the amount that goes to the seller,” warns Joe. “In addition to the seller’s fee, the cost of shipping to the auction house must also be covered by the seller, and is often a cost for marketing the artwork too.”
Online marketplaces, such as eBay, allow you to connect directly with buyers at a low fee. But these platforms also run the risk of scammers, or you may unintentionally undervalue your Riley print. Selling on these platforms should depend on your level of confidence and expertise in the art market.
MyArtBroker charges a 0% fee to the seller. We offer the flexibility of selling online and the expertise of an auction house. Your personal broker will market your print to our global network of buyers, when you want and at the price you want to receive. We will vet potential interest to ensure they are genuine. In most cases, you can keep your print until you agree to a sale and, after the sale takes place, we will cover the cost of shipping. Get in touch with us if you are interested and we will talk you through the process.
Selling online also increases the chance of your print reaching a global audience. The market for Riley’s prints is growing internationally: sales in the US have grown from 9% to 12% between 2020-21, while sales in countries beyond the UK and US have grown from 12% to 23%. MyArtBroker’s global network consists of over 15,000 collectors buying and selling works daily, as well as dealers, galleries and independent experts.
“The prices for Riley’s prints have been increasing year on year but I don’t think it has peaked yet,” says Joe. In 2018, the average price of a Riley print was £4,886, according to a leading online art market database. In 2019, this increased to £6,881; in 2020 to £7,442; and in 2021 to £10,482 (bolstered by the sale of a couple of exceptionally large prints) – an increase of nearly 115% in three years.
Demand for an artist's prints often rises when they are in the news, for example during a large exhibition, in response to a new biopic film or book, or after a major painting has sold at auction. But selling your print at the same time as other sellers risks flooding the market with supply and decreasing the sale price. We’ve seen increases in value for Bridget Riley prints so far in 2022 and MyArtBroker frequently receives requests for her prints.“We’ve gotten enquiries about prints across Riley’s career, from her earliest works such as Fragments from 1965, through to Stripes from the 1970s and Rhomboid from the 1980s, all the way to her more recent prints like Rose Rose from 2012, created to commemorate the Olympic Games in London,” says Joe.
Older editions such as the monochrome Fragments on plexiglas series are harder to come by on the market and command higher prices. Riley’s exploration into colour from the early vertical 70s stripes such as Firebird (1971) to her stripes released in the 2000s continue to climb steadily in price.
Size is important with many collectors wanting large works such as Ra Inverted (2009), New Day (1992) from the Rhomboid series spanning the 80s and early 90s. The curvilinear Large Fragment (2006) is also in demand.
Unlike Banksy’s Pest Control, Riley does not issue certificates of authenticity as standard for her prints. So it is vital to have your print’s paperwork on hand before you try to sell – for example, your proof of purchase, certificates from the gallery or printer, the original frame or original gallery stickers on the back of the frame, and a paper trail detailing the previous owners (also called provenance).
“If you still have the original packaging that came with your print, such as a box from the Tate, this can help to strengthen the authenticity of your print,” says Joe.
Riley’s prints are printed on high-quality wove paper, which makes them less vulnerable to damage. But it is still essential that you try to sell your print in the best possible condition to get the best price.
Check for signs of damage such as scratches or tears on the paper, foxing (brown spots caused by mould spores or iron minerals in the paper), light damage like faded colours or yellowing paper, or warping of the paper due to changes in humidity. Find out more in our guide to restoring and caring for modern and contemporary prints.
If you have concerns or questions, contact MyArtBroker and we can recommend a professional restorer to advise you on whether your Riley print needs restoration.