Expert advice

Everything you need to know about investing in Street Art

Written by Beulah | 30th August 2019

When Banksy shredded his own artwork at auction, it didn’t just create some splashy headlines – it also posed some interesting questions about the future of Street Art. While investing in Street Art is a great way to support your favourite artists, the market is changing so quickly that it’s not always clear where to begin. Here to guide you are Catawiki Street Art experts: Ard Doko and Anthony Chrisp.

Reading the market

One of the many interesting things about the Street Art market is its comparative youth. Collectors of Modern Art movements like Pop Art and Surrealism have decades of data to pull on when making an investment decision. In comparison, with the exception of a few big name artists from the 70s and 80s (such as Basquiat, Moncada and Haring), Street Art has only recently come to the attention of mainstream investors.

“Street Art just keeps growing in popularity,” says Anthony. “15 years ago I would never have guessed that in the future, there would be Oscar-nominated documentaries, Museum Retrospectives and appearances on The Simpsons for the guys with stencils and spray paints. Listing artists by investment potential is a challenging task, with many variables such as market trends, availability of work and the evolution of the artist’s style.”

But are there some artists whose work we can expect to gain in value, even if it’s based more on a hunch from experts than market trends? “Definitely.” Anthony continues: “There are artists whose work continues to interest and engage through quality, content or both. Such as Faith47, Swoon, Hush, Denial, Banksy, Kev Munday, Copyright, JR, Saber, Tom French, Hayden Kays, Fake, Eine, Katsu, Invader, Good Guy Boris and C215.”

Ard points out that new investors should also take a look at the names that keep appearing in auction. “An artist that has a good chance of getting bigger in [Catawiki] auctions is Elizee Skayzoo. He’s a French artist that is always a bidders favourite when he’s in auction. And abstract Street Art is picking up too; this could be calligraffiti, but also the graphical geometric murals you see popping up [for auction] more and more.”

“Artists are becoming brands; besides geometrical walls, we see a lot of murals that have this technique that make it look like an oil painting. Styles are being redefined and the results that you get out of working with spray paint is evolving to another level.”

Future-proofing your investment

In October 2018, an original painting by Banksy was put up for auction and then promptly shredded by the artist, before the winning bidder could take possession of the work. That story has a happy ending – experts believe that the high-profile shredding actually increased the value of the sketch and the buyer completed the sale – but it presents some interesting questions around how Street Art collectors can future-proof their investments.

The best thing a collector can ask themselves is “Does [this piece of art] make sense ten years later?” Ard explains. “We see a lot of politically engaged street art that is part of a two-year craze and then gets forgotten due to changes in the political climate and social priorities.” 

And what about future-proofing the market itself? As well-known Street Artworks start going for six and even seven-figure sums at auction, is there a danger that Street Art will become the preserve of the elite? “Look at the big names in the street art scene,” says Anthony, “the artists who have crossed over into the public consciousness – artists like Banksy, Shepard Fairey (OBEY), Invader and Mr Brainwash – and you’ll find most of their original artworks are already out of the average collectors reach.”

“However, the beauty of the scene is it’s constantly evolving and new artists are breaking through all the time. If you do still want to hang one of the street art elite on your wall, limited edition prints are a great entry point with Banksy and Obey offering prints below market value in an attempt to make them accessible to all.”

As Ard points out: “There is a certain danger for any form of art that is getting popular. As long as people try to cash in, this is the case. However, true Street Art is still widely available for the general public and that will never go away, as long as the artists have that self-sufficient mentality and actually paint on the streets. It's like music; you’ve got your pop music and then you have your punk music. Both are very popular but belong to a different crowd and budget. Artists have the self-sufficient mentality because they take their business out of galleries and sell them through channels like ours instead. This makes it more affordable for your average Joe.”

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September is the Catawiki Month of Street Art. We’re celebrating Street Artists on every platform, and via our specially-curated Street Art auctions.

Discover more Street Art | Streetwise Street Art

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The ways online auctions are changing street art

In the spotlight: the street art of Falcó

From the streets to the gallery: street artists on the move

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