Feeding frenzy in the Banksy market. September 2020.

The market for Banksy’s prints and multiples has been very dynamic the last decade, with prices increasing 25 % per year on average. Not this year. According to the website https://www.banksy-value.com, prices for Banky’s prints have gone up 104 % since the beginning of 2020. The estimate is based on real results on the auctions in London and elsewhere. In 2020, well over 250 prints have been bought and sold between collectors at the big auction houses. Of special interest are the upcoming auctions at Christie’s “I can’t believe you morons actually buy this sh*t”, and Sotheby’s “Banksy”, with several iconic prints up for sale, such as Girl with Balloon, Christ with Shopping Bags, and Love is in the Air.

Another interesting example is the print Banksquiat, from a signed edition of 300, released at the Gross Domestic Product exhibition in October 2019. It was Banky’s first regular print release since 2010. One of the Banksquiat prints was put up for sale by a collector at Tate Ward Auctions in London in August and it sold for GBP 118,750 including Buyers Premium.

Banksy’s Banksquiat print, sold at Tate Ward in August for GBP 118,750

How can a print by Banksy sell for GBP 100,000 when a print by Picasso goes for GBP 2,000? Possible explanations:

First, the prints have been an essential part of Banksy’s “oeuvre”. The prints are more than reproductions of a motive – they are handprinted pieces of art in their own right. The idea behind making prints is to provide affordable artwork for a broader public. The irony is that the same print Banksy sold for 50 GBP at the initial release back in the early 2000s, is now being sold for more than 50,000 GBP on the secondary market.

The trust factor: The Picasso foundation doesn’t certify Picasso’s prints, they only care about the unique pieces. Banksy’s handling service, Pest Control Office, has created an almost fake-proof certification system for the prints, which has led to a high level of trust in the secondary market.

It’s also a question of limited supply and increasing demand. Picasso was enormously prolific and produced thousands and thousands of prints in different techniques and in large editions. Banksy has only printed 50 motives. If we count the different colourways for some of these motives such as the Soup Cans, the total is somewhere around 130 different motives, all printed in small editions. The total supply of certified Banksy prints is relatively small if we compare to other established artists – if we sum all of the editions made from the 130 different motives we will arrive at aprox 10.000 signed prints and aprox 20.000 unsigned prints, which are also authentic if they have a Certificate of Authenticity.

The increasing demand comes from the fact that Banksy is perceived as the most influential artists of our times. His printed motives are among the most iconic images around and therefore highly coveted by a growing base of collectors. Also, you not only get a screen print for your money, you get a part of an artistic narrative, unprecedented in the art-world.

There is especially one factor influencing both demand and supply: Longterm collectors have finally understood that they can buy a Banksy. According to initiated sources, almost all important art foundations are now trying to get hold of as many Banksy’s as possible. When long term collectors buy on the secondary market, they not only increase the demand, the pieces will “disappear” from the market, thus limiting supply further.