In an Art Slump, Graffiti is Free
When times are tough, you don't spend when you don't have to. There's sufficient graffiti in London to keep art collectors entertained, which is causing them to shy away from works by Banksy. Larger auction houses have cut down on the Banksy works they are carrying, and some of the regional auction houses are canceling their urban art specialist sales.
It's hard to tell if Banksy is disappointed. The artist, who was born in Bristol (west England) keeps his (her?) identity a secret. So, if you see some weirdo crying in a corner over the next few weeks at a pub in Bristol (or, maybe, London), ask if it's Banksy. It could be cooler than finding Waldo.
Prices for pieces by Banksy have plunged this year, with failure rates on the rise. Auction houses are now sufficiently nervous to hedge their bets, carrying little (or no) inventory by the artist and canceling auctions that may not deliver.
In general, contemporary art auction selling points are down 30 percent to 50 percent – about as much as your 401(k). The top houses – Christie's, Sotheby's, Bonhams and Phillips de Pury – didn't carrying any of Banksy's work in their June or early July auctions. This year, 76 Banksy paintings and prints have come under the gavel, with 30 of them (almost half) not selling. The highest price reached was $230,500 at a New York Sotheby's event. Last year, the top price for a Banksy piece was $1.9 million at Sotheby's RED charity auction in February.