Should I sell my Banksy?
September 28, 2009 5:22 AM   Subscribe

[Contemporary Art Filter]: I own an original, signed Banksy print that I've just found out is currently worth A LOT more than either I paid for it or expected it to be valued at. While I don't want to sell it, I'm wondering if now is the time to cash in on the Banksy boom and walk away from the table, or whether he's an artist that will continue to prove a good investment.

Let's suspend for a minute aesthetic criteria, and view art purely as an investment. Crass I know.

I own a Banksy soup can print, just like this one. Signed, one of an edition of 50. Bought in 2005.

I love it, and don't want to sell it. And yet I've recently found out it's worth about 20 times more than what I paid for it. Which gives one pause for thought.

Here's the question: if I sell now, will I forever kick myself as Banksy prices explode into the Warholian stratosphere? Or if I hold on to it, aside from the pleasure of having it on my wall, will I kick myself as Banksy valuations regress to the mean? Any thoughts on how long term he is as an artist, or more prosaically, as an investment vehicle?
posted by momentofmagnus to Media & Arts (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The art market is quite weak now in general. No one's buying; they're trying to hold onto their houses. I'd hold onto it.

No one can tell you what a particular artist's future market price is, of course, and if they say they can, they're deluding themselves. If everyone knew someone would be worth more in the future, he would be worth more now. "It's hard making predictions, especially about the future."
posted by musofire at 5:24 AM on September 28, 2009

You might also want to ask your question at The Intrepid Art Collector.
posted by musofire at 5:35 AM on September 28, 2009

Did you find out that it's "worth" 20 times more than what you paid for it, or did a reputable buyer actually offer you 20 times more than what you paid for it? Those are two very different things. You shouldn't bother agonizing over whether you should sell at price X until/unless you actually have an offer at price X.
posted by Perplexity at 5:38 AM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

The other piece of this is an opportunity cost. What could you do with this money that you wouldn't otherwise be able to do if you didn't sell the print?

In other words, your question should not just be "will banksy prices rise" but also "what is the value worth to me in the present"?
posted by Pants! at 5:40 AM on September 28, 2009

Art, in the long term, can be an exceptionally good investment, but what it's worth is down to the buyer.

If, as Perplexity said, you've been made an offer then that's what it's worth to the person making the offer. The piece may be worth more if you turn down the initial offer as the potential buyer may up their offer.

If so, you then have to ask yourself why they want it so badly. They might like it, or they might be after an investment of their own for the long term. In which case they're banking on prices going up and that they'll recoup their money.

If you've not had an offer, then get it valued. Then you'll know what it's worth as a minimum at auction.

Personally, I'd hold onto it for the long term, get a proper valuation from an art specialist and then insure it with a good artwork insurance policy.
posted by Nugget at 5:48 AM on September 28, 2009

Response by poster: Perplexity: thanks, good point. Basically I saw the print in a gallery here in NYC at a price of $18k. Now clearly I wouldn't get that, but given I paid - I think - 300 GBP for it, there's still considerable upside. To be honest, I'm veering towards not selling it, as it is one of my favorite possessions. Musofire's point is a good one too.
posted by momentofmagnus at 5:49 AM on September 28, 2009

Hold on to it. If it were anyone other than Banksy I'd recommend you try and flog it but it's safe to say that Banksy has a durable career ahead of him and he's not going to drop into obscurity.
posted by fire&wings at 5:56 AM on September 28, 2009 [2 favorites]

Would you buy it at or near the current price? If not, you should sell it.
posted by hawthorne at 6:11 AM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

Do you need the money? Unless you need it I'd hold on to it. You like it, you have a personal connection to the print, its value to you is more than pretty much anyone who'd be likely to buy it.
posted by Kattullus at 6:19 AM on September 28, 2009

momentofmagnus: Basically I saw the print in a gallery here in NYC at a price of $18k.

Remember that you didn't see it get sold for $18k but saw it not sell for $18k.
posted by Kattullus at 6:23 AM on September 28, 2009 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Did you buy it because it was a piece of art that you loved, wanted to show others and hang in your house to enjoy, or did you buy it for its financial upside? The answer to that question will go a long way towards telling you what you should do.
posted by pdb at 6:52 AM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: PDB: I bought I because I loved it, with no expectation of any monetary return. You make a good point.

Thanks everyone. Think it will stay on my wall.
posted by momentofmagnus at 6:56 AM on September 28, 2009

I love it, and don't want to sell it.

Then keep it. If you need to sell it to eat, fine. But just consider that you bought it at an affordable price.

Would you buy it at or near the current price? If not, you should sell it.

If you wouldn't buy it at the current price, then you got a good deal on it. You now own something you might not otherwise be able to afford. Enjoy it.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 7:15 AM on September 28, 2009

If you keep it, you should be sure that it is properly insured against loss or damage, particularly if you think bad people might find you in the real world from this post.
posted by procrastination at 7:20 AM on September 28, 2009 [4 favorites]

I saw the print in a gallery here in NYC at a price of $18k

Yeah, the price tag on an NYC gallery wall is probably not your best indicator of actual market value. It's probably a great indicator of what one gallery owner in NYC thinks s/he might be able to get off some newly rich graffiti fan.
posted by mediareport at 8:30 AM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

seconding properly insured. if you claim against your homeowner's insurance an $18k painting they will just laugh at you. you need to have it inspected and verified by a qualified professional that will give you a certificate of authenticity and insured on its own policy through a company that insures art!
posted by phritosan at 8:32 AM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

If you do decide to keep it, leaving open the possibility of selling in the future, condition plays a large roll in determining price.

From a paper/art conservator's standpoint (which may be a bit overly cautious), works on paper, including prints, should not spend unlimited time exposed to light. I think that the general rule of thumb is 4 weeks/year, which could be combined to include a 3 month period of display every 3 years (this is how works could be loaned for exhibitions, which in general are about 3 months long). And even then the work was usually behind UV protected glazing and shown under acceptable light levels.

I wouldn't expect you to be this cautious at home, but at the very least, make sure the print is behind some sort of UV barrier, and do not place it where it will be in direct sunlight. The fresher that you can keep the print, the longer that you will be able to enjoy it in all it's original pristine glory and the more that it will be worth, if you decide that you'd like to sell it at some stage.
posted by kaybdc at 8:37 AM on September 28, 2009

I would encourage you, in this case, not to reply upon the opinion of the Internet, but to talk to a real, honest-to-goodness art appraiser (accredited by an association like AAA or ASA), if only because you need a solid appraisal to get this piece adequately ensured as other posters have suggested. Many factors contribute to correctly valuing your piece, including market conditions, provenance, and condition. First stop: reputable appraiser from a national association. Congratulations!
posted by teamparka at 10:28 AM on September 28, 2009

Pardon: insured. Eek!
posted by teamparka at 10:28 AM on September 28, 2009

Honestly I think Banksy is pretty smoking and likely to survive longer than a lot of claptrap. His stuff is superior to anything else I've seen. When Shepard Fairey is doing Gucci ads full time, I think Banksy's stuff will really look entirely superior.
posted by sully75 at 10:38 AM on September 28, 2009

I just checked ArtNet auction records.

One of these sold for 2,880 BP (4,760 US$)
Bonhams Knightsbridge: Wednesday, July 01, 2009 [Lot 00287] Vision 21
edition 44/50

This is down from 4,080 BP (5,817 US$)
February 24, 2009 also Bonhams in London
(also, oddly, 44/50! same object??)

in an edition of 250 it sold in March 08 for 1,000 BP (1,474 US$)

going further back, his prices are indeed rising. But, personally, I am getting sick of hearing his name. Is he just a trend or will he endure through art history? I also agree with a previous commenter that you should note the paper conservation issues.
posted by Jason and Laszlo at 2:45 PM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

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