The art market makes no sense!

The nice thing about street art is that, for 99% of the people who look at it (the people who see it on the street and not on blogs like this one), there’s not market consideration about “how much is that worth?” or anything like that. But then there’s the 1% of us (the people who follow blogs and write and forums and so on) who do see the art market side of street art. Sometimes the art market provides opportunities for Boxi, Steve Powers and other artists can show up in London and paint walls with permission and free paint. Other times, the art market makes me want to cry.

This week, Philips de Pury had a few pieces in their London day auction by low-brow and street artists. Street Art Is Dead notes that two Mr. Brainwash pieces sold for £42,000 and £75,000 even though the estimates were already a seemingly insane £7-9,000 and £15-20,000 respectively. What makes those results even more disgusting is when you compare them to other results in that same sale:

  • A massive and beautiful Ryan McGinness which has been shown in The Saatchi Gallery sold for just under £19,000. A collector could have 4 of those paintings, or one crappy Mr. Brainwash.
  • The Kaws piece pictured above sold for £13,750. Not my favorite, but you would think that Star Wars fans would be all over that one.
  • And then the two most surprising results were that both a Margaret Kilgallen cluster and an old Barry McGee piece failed to sell at all! While this particular Kilgallen cluster has been floating around for quite a while, it’s not a bad piece and Kilgallen’s art is almost impossible to find for sale.

Similarly, while it doesn’t outrage me quite as much, I don’t exactly understand why this Banksy sold for $75,000. It’s just not a strong image.

The art market makes no sense and sometimes I wish it would just go away.

Photo courtesy of Phillips de Pury