Graffiti at Christie’s Amsterdam

My friends are Lebowski Publishers are hosting this event next week at Christie’s in Amsterdam. At the next auction at that Christie’s location, there are going to be a number of pieces for sale from old-school writers, which is how this party has come about. Nothing against old-school graffiti on canvas, but it’s not really my thing. What I’m more interested in with this party is the living painting collaboration between Shoe and Quik, plus whatever Laser 3.14 and WorldWarWon get up to in. WWW is a clever and new street artist in London, and Laser 3.14 does some great text-based street art/graffiti. Also, the first 50 people there will get a copy of a classic book: The Faith of Graffiti.

Banksy smashes estimates at auction

Bomb Hugger by Banksy

It looks like Banksy‘s film Exit Through The Gift Shop is already helping boost the price of his artwork, even though it sounds like the film is more about Mr. Brainwash (whose prices somehow have not dropped to $0, yet). This week, there have been 5 Banksy pieces at auction in London, and almost all sold above the high estimate.

First up was the Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Day Auction on February 11th. There were three Banksy pieces in that auction: one print and two originals.

Why is there a Banksy print for sale at Sotheby’s instead of Dreweatts or Bonhams? Because it was a Kate Moss. An edition of just 50, these are probably the most sought-after of any of Banksy’s prints. They aren’t my favorite, but I’m just one guy and the market definitely disagrees with me on this one. The print was estimated to sell at £25-35,000. Including the buyer’s premium, it went for £46,850. The Kate Moss prints have sold for as much as £96,000 before, but this is probably the best price one has achieved since the recession hit.

Both originals at Sotheby’s were older works, and sold to benefit The Luggage Store Gallery. Bomb Hugger and Armoured Car were both estimated at £25-35,000. Bomb Hugger sold for £58,850 and Armoured Car reached £49,250.

Next up was the Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art Day Auction on the 12th. They had an amazing Banksy canvas, You Told That Joke Twice. Christie’s estimated the piece at £100-150,000, and it sold for £169,250 including the buyer’s premium, which put the hammer price near the upper end of the estimate. This was the only Banksy piece this weekend not the exceed the high estimate.

Later that day, Phillips de Pury had their Evening Sale in Contemporary Art. Their Banksy was Vandalised oil #001, a fantastic crude oil. With a conservative estimate of just £60-80,000, the results here were outstanding. The painting sold for £121,250 including the buyer’s premium.

Now, as noted with the Kate Moss print, these aren’t the best auction results Banksy has ever had, and I don’t want to sound like that NYTimes article that said “The art market is once again shooting up like a rocket,” but the Banksy market at least seems on the road to recovery.

London’s February auctions

On February 11th-13th, Sotheby’s Christie’s and Phillips de Pury will all have auctions in London which include a fair amount of street art. Here’s a selection of most of that work.

Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Day Auction. February 11th, from 2pm.

  • Lot 230: Untitled by Jean-Michel Basquiat. Estimated £70-90,000
    RJ’s thoughts – Meh. It’s an okay sketch. For the £70,000 estimate, wouldn’t you rather have a kickass José Parlá?
  • Lot 233: Kate Moss by Banksy. Estimated £25-35,000
    RJ’s thoughts – I’m not a fan of the Kate Moss prints, but I seem to be the only one in the world who isn’t. Also, how cool is it that Sotheby’s gets the joke has lots 232 and 234 are both by Warhol?
  • Lot 284: Bomb Hugger by Banksy. Estimated £25-35,000
    RJ’s thoughts – Usually I don’t like the poorly executed original works that Banksy made around this time, but this one I love for some reason.
  • Lot 285: Amoured Car by Banksy. Estimated £25-35,000
    RJ’s thoughts – Pretty much the same as my thoughts on Bomb Hugger, except that the reason I like this piece is the title.

Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Auction. February 12th.

  • Lot 269: Untitled (Robots Amaze) by Barry McGee. Estimated £30-40,000
    Elisa’s thoughts – Both this piece and Lot 271 could be tough sells as they are not “typical” McGee works, plus they’re installations, but this one is certainly fun. It’s not for me, but I have to admit that it’s a cool piece to observe in person – it has that eerie aura to it that all animatronics have. But how does one get the tag on the wall? Does Barry come over and do it for you himself? That would be cool. Otherwise, how does the piece work? I’ll also add that it is interesting to see both this lot and Untitled (Car Boot) at auction – whether you like the work or not, it shows the wider art world that Barry’s scope is greater than his gorgeous trademark clusters and individual portrait pieces.
    RJ’s thoughts – From what I hear, the piece doesn’t come with the “Amaze” tag, and if you want one, you have to paint it yourself. That is so disappointing. This will only sell to a museum or somebody who wants to donate it to a museum, if it sells at all.
  • Lot 270: You Told That Joke Twice by Banksy. Estimated £100-150,000
    Elisa’s thoughts – This is a strong, intelligent piece from Banksy. The estimate is high, considering the market, but it’s a big piece and I hope it performs well as it shows Banksy off at his best. I love it.
    RJ’s thoughts – Yeah it’s a high estimate, but as Elisa says, it’s quite a big painting. And it’s one of my all time favorite Banksy’s. Definitely one of his strongest works. And in terms of the art market, it definitely helps that this piece was in Banksy’s book “Wall and Piece” and that it’s a total one-off.
  • Lot 271: Untitled (Car Boot) by Barry McGee. Estimated £15-20,000
    Elisa’s thoughts – This works as a cool installation piece within a larger exhibition context and links to the great larger car installations Barry is known for, but on its own it looks a bit dead and pretentious. It should go to a museum, some other kind of institution, or else a McGee fanatic who owns hundreds of pieces and can put lots of other work around it to give it the life it deserves.
    RJ’s thoughts – I think that a museum could do better, maybe will a full car, but a really ambitious collector with some McGee clusters already could make this piece the centerpiece of their collection.

Phillips de Pury Evening Sale: Contemporary Art. February 13th.

  • Lot 18: Cash Crop by Jean-Michel Basquiat. Estimated £600-900,000
    Elisa’s thoughts – This is an interesting piece because it reflects an important period in Basquiat’s history. It’s a very introspective, personal piece, which makes for a tension that appeals to me, but it’s not his strongest work.
    RJ’s thoughts – Agreed, it’s not his strongest work. I wouldn’t care if this was on my wall or not, except for the fact that it was painted by Basquiat. “Year of the Boar” sold at Phillips de Pury back in October for £1.1 million, and that painting looked 10x better to me.
  • Lot 19: Vandalised oil #001 by Banksy. Estimated £60-80,000
    Elisa’s thoughts – This is an iconic crude oil from Banksy. If you’re a fan of Banksy and like this series, I say go for it.
    RJ’s thoughts – Pricing for Banksy’s crude oils can be so screwy that it’s nearly impossible to know what a fair market price is, but this is definitely one of the better ones.

Phillips de Pury Day Sale: Contemporary Art. February 13th.

  • Lot 138: Two works – Untitled by Kaws. Estimated £10-15,000
    Elisa’s thoughts – In my opinion, there is no artistic merit in works like these. The estimate is about right, but it’s beyond me why someone would pay that for them.
    RJ’s thoughts – I’m not a Kaws collector, but we all know one (or are one). For Kaws fanatics, these two pieces would be great additions to a collection. But yeah, otherwise, who else cares? They’re just his skulls by themselves. It’s more like buying a Nike logo, not an OBEY Giant poster.

RJ’s final thoughts – Overall, wow. Maybe not all of these pieces are amazing, but the artists are all top-tier. There are no unproven street artists in these sales.