Banksy printsThe elusive Banksy has become one of the world’s most recognisable artists.
Born in 1974 and believed to be from Bristol, Banksy the street artist has shot to international fame since his graffiti began to first appear in the city in the early 1990s. His original artwork can now sell for huge price at auctions – even millions for the most expensive examples.
But Banksy prints are also available for much lesser sums and they often appear at auctions on thesaleroom.com.
However, such is the artist’s following – and also the level of the interest from investors – even prints made in multiples of 1000 now command sums that run into the thousands of pounds.
Unofficial reproductions also appear regularly on the market (they are often offered for sale as ‘Bansky’, but they are in fact ‘after’ Banksy which means made by someone else imitating Banksy’s style) and these works will usually sell in the hundreds of pounds.
Stencils and screenprints
Banksy has a trademark style that is highly identifiable. His graffiti is created using stencils and spray paint, a technique pioneered by the French street artist Blek le Rat. The subject matter is often satirical, tongue-in-cheek or has an element of cultural criticism.
Banksy prints follow the same style and have similar motifs and witty commentary – sometimes the images are based on known works that Banksy sprayed onto the sides of building, street walls or bridges.
Banksy has been making and selling prints since the early 2000s – the earliest examples that have sold at auction date from this period. When they first came out, some were sold for just £25 each – but they’re now worth at least 200-times that amount.
Most official prints are either screenprints – a process where the ink is pushed through a fine screen onto a surface beneath – or offset lithographs where images on metal plates are transferred (offset) into the print media.
Individual Banksy prints have a hierarchy on the market, with the more famous images commanding the higher prices – for example Girl with Balloon or Rude Copper are two of the most sought after.
Official editions also vary in terms of the number of prints produced and some runs feature variations to the colours. In general terms, the rarer the print or the colour then the higher the value.
Editions of 1000 are not uncommon, although sometimes the number in an edition can be significantly smaller. Check to see if the work you are interested in is numbered or from a known edition.
Signed prints are rarer still and command a premium over unsigned counterparts and a small number of artist’s proofs were also made which are occasionally available.
However, even a print seemingly carrying Banksy’s signature may not be authentic as many copyists produced copycat works.
Banksy’s fame and the demand for his works means that nowadays many more reproductions are in circulation compared to authentic limited editions.
The way to prove whether a work is genuine is either through a certificate from Pest Control, Banksy’s official authenticating service, or via an established provenance going back to an official source.
Pest Control was set up in 2008 to authenticate works and to counter the growing number of fakes that were being produced. All official Banksy prints from this period onwards were sold with a Pest Control certificate, although Pest Control also issues certificates retrospectively for genuine works produced before this date.
Pestcontoloffice.com can authenticate any original Banksy print for a fee and also processes ‘change of ownership’ requests.
Some authentic works may also appear at auction with a certificate or stamp or an embossed logo for the gallery Pictures on Walls. This print shop was launched in London in 2003 as an initiative enabling street artists (including Banksy) to sell works directly to buyers without having to use a dealer.
Others prints may have provenance to an official supplier such as the London’s Lazarides Gallery (Steve Lazarides was Banksy’s agent for 11 years) which would also indicate that a work is genuine.
Most Banksy prints should be in good condition due to the way they were made and the fact that they are not very old. The majority were originally sold with specially-made frames, meaning they were kept behind protective glass and so should still be in a good state.
However, it’s always worth checking an item’s condition for any issues prior to bidding at auction. Look out for any signs that show the effects of sunlight and humidity or any fading to the colours. Also check for any defects to the paper itself like scuffs or scratches, as well as any restoration work that may have been carried out.
As with other prints and works of paper, condition problems will affect the value of the Banksy prints. If you’re buying as a collector or simply because you want to hang the work on your wall, a professional restorer can often help a damaged print look as good as new.
What to do next
Decide how much you’d like to spend and use the search facility on thesaleroom.com to find Banksy prints coming up for sale.
You can filter your search by, among other things, price and by location of the auction house to narrow down your selection.
To research recent prices at auction to see how much different prints sold for you can also try out the Price Guide.
If you are new to bidding check out our guides to buying at auction – it’s easy once you know how.