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Banksy versus the classics

HENRI FANTIN-LATOUR (1836-1904) Œillets, 1887 signed and dated ‘Fantin. 87’ (lower right) oil on canvas, 44.5 x 37 cm

Walking round an auction house the realities of market prices never cease to amaze me. At Christies recently, for example, you could bid on various works on paper. If you like paintings of flowers, then there happened to be a highly attractive group of five unique works, expected to realise some £150,000 in total. I’d take any of those – by Alex von Jawlensky, Hannah Höch, Maurice de Vlaminck, Giorgio De Chirico and Henri Fantin-Latour – at their average £30,000 value over a screenprint by Banksy on a similar scale. Whatever its merits, the Banksy is already a secondary work, made after an original wall stencil, and comes from an edition of 416 plus an extraordinary 66 Artist’s Proofs (just how many APs can you plausibly need?). So call it effectively an edition of 500. Yet the Banksy was estimated at £200-300,000! Apparently, every pop star wants one. So I had it the wrong way around: not several Banksy huge-edition prints per Fantin-Latour painting, but several Fantin-Latour paintings per Banksy print! More of a headline lot was Banksy’s painting  ‘Subject to Availability’, 2009-10, which was available subject to you having an estimated £3-5m to spend on it (it sold for £4.5m)… I’d like to say that the actual prices achieved made more sense to me, and there was a slight shift: the Banksy print made £218,750, so low end, while the Fantin-Latour was the star of the cheaper works, fetching £62,500 against its £30-50,000 estimate. Still, getting on for four Fantin-Latour originals per Banksy print.

BANKSY: Nola AP (Green to Blue Rain), 2008 screenprint on paper, image: 64 x 44cm.

 

Art writer and curator Paul Carey-Kent sees a lot of shows: we asked him to jot down whatever came into his head

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