For most artists, gaining recognition and selling high-priced art pieces are life-long aspirations. For Banksy, though, fame seemed to come as a surprise. His rising popularity among collectors and the huge amounts that they are willing to pay for his work have shocked the art world. And when his pieces began selling at auction for record-setting prices, no one was more surprised than Banksy himself. This if part four in our eight-part guide to Banksy Art and Graffiti.
(image via ArtNet)
Banksy has made it known that he has nothing to do with the exhibitions full of his work at “proper art galleries.” The only shows that he admits to arranging himself are those held in unconventional places and featuring spectacles like the infamous painted elephant at his 2006 debut American show, Barely Legal.
(image via Wooster Collective)
He may not always agree with how his work is shown and sold, but Banksy art is being bought up for astonishing amounts, both at auctions and through the artist’s own agents. A turning point came when Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt purchased several of his works for a total of more than $400,000. After that, owning an original Banksy was no longer reserved for the odd street-art enthusiast or lucky owner of a graffitied London wall. Now, having a Banksy in the house is a downright mainstream ambition.
(image via Metro.co.uk)
It’s an ambition that, sadly, most of us will never realize. While the artist maintains his free shop where users may download and print out selected works for free, those pieces sold at auction continue to sport ever-increasing price tags. The painting above, “Bombing Middle England,” sold at a Sotheby’s auction in 2007 for over $200,000. The final price was more than double the highest estimated value.
(image via Daily Mail)
Maybe the most astonishing asking price for a Banksy piece is a mobile home being sold by a Norfolk, UK, couple. They met Banksy at the Glastonbury music festival a decade ago, long before he was a well-known artist. He used their trailer as a giant canvas and the couple ended up with a piece of art more valuable than they ever could have imagined. Having decided that they don’t want to be responsible for such a valuable item, the owners have decided to sell the trailer for $1 million. (Watch a news clip about this story here.)
(image via Insite)
This isn’t the first time that a Banksy piece has been offered for sale with a house attached. In 2007, the owners of a home in southwest England wanted to sell but were distressed that all of the prospective buyers wanted to remove the rare Banksy mural (above) on the side of the house. In the end, the couple sold the home through the Red Propeller art gallery as a Banksy mural with a free house thrown in. The asking price? $400,000, which was the value of the house alone.
(images via This Is London)
Of course, not all owners of Banksy murals are willing to sell the entire structure upon which the art was created. A man in London recently sold a Banksy picture that appeared on the wall of his garage for only $2000 and a full-size reproduction of the piece. The purchaser paid about $60,000 having the piece removed, but he still came out ahead as the mural may be worth as much as $600,000.
(image via cactusbones)
In January of 2008, a Banksy mural on the side of a building on Portobello Road in London was auctioned off on eBay. The final bid came to over $400,000, not including removal arrangements and subsequent repair of the wall.
With Banksy’s international fame on the rise, it’s anyone’s guess how much future paintings, prints, murals, and the more unconventional pieces (like the below “Di Faced Tenners”) will fetch at auction. One thing that seems to be on everyone’s mind lately is just how anonymous an artist can remain when he’s making this much money and when his pieces are this sought-after.
(image via daylife)
Recent newspaper reports that Banksy’s true identity may be known have left many onlookers wondering whether the artist’s earning potential will be brought down by an unmasking. Will fans still pay big money for a piece of the anonymous painter’s work when he is no longer anonymous? Banksy is adamant that he will maintain that anonymity and insists that he is not out to gain fame for himself. For now, we can only imagine that he is living a pretty comfortable life, enjoying his freedom from recognition and spending those massive paychecks.
Banksy Art 2: Graffiti, Drawings and Stencils