A: In your experience, is there a difference in how Europeans vs. Americans perceive Banksy? Why is Banksy so popular, and how does he fit into his generation of artists?
SL: I’m not convinced that there is a geographic divide between what admirers of Banksy’s work feel about his pieces – his draw is more messaged and the humour in many of his pieces transcends cultural barriers. He has unquestionably become a British icon, but this doesn’t prejudice the growing international appeal of his works. Many of Banksy’s satirical observations are self-evidently nuanced with geo-political overtures and inevitably the USA, as the most senior global ‘face of capitalism’, gets its fair share of his attention. There has of course been a sea-change in the demographic makeup of buyers for Banksy’s work as prices have risen. Many of the items in the auction would have cost less than $100 when they were first released and at 100-fold of this amount his collecting community has changed. It is however the case that all admirers of his works will continue to derive pleasure from both the visual impact of the pieces and the commentary that many of them express on both discrete and broader topics of social interest.
A: What should a collector look for when considering buying a Banksy?
RW: My over-riding advice to any collector, whatever the art they are considering, is first and foremost to focus on what they like and want to see hanging on their walls. The informed and professional collector may have greater commercial bias when choosing their purchases but won’t gain any more pleasure from owning their works than enthusiastic amateurs who simply love the images they buy for their homes. When considering ‘value’, and as with anything you buy, rarity, provenance and condition are key.
All of Banksy’s directly produced and published works, whether ‘originals’ or limited edition prints, are recorded and the only authenticating authority is Pest Control Office. Irrespective of what a vendor or agent might state as regards other provenance, any work without the Pest Control COA is largely un-saleable. Aside from the now expensive recorded works there are occasionally much more affordable releases of Banksy memorabilia – we will only deal with those that are sanctioned either by the artist or his publishing gallery, Pictures on Walls, and these are catalogued as ‘after’ Banksy (Lots 5, 13, 22, & 34).
Whatever your budget, there is a Banksy for you!