Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Pushing the boundaries and seeing what happens

Francesca Gavin recently wrote a piece for Artsy titled: 
“Steve Lazarides’s Banksy Auction Tests the Artist’s Market”

Lazarides photographed by Lars Fassinger
"Steve Lazarides is innately skilled at promotion. His career as a gallerist was for a decade intertwined with the artist Banksy - initially promoting and producing screenprints for Banksy and his imprint Pictures on Walls, before representing the artist as a gallerist. Lazarides’s gallery is now the definitive space for artists who have largely emerged from a street context, and next week Lazarides is putting up around 30 unsigned prints by Banksy at auction. The question everyone is asking is why?

“I want to see how far the market can go, to be honest,” Lazarides explains. “When you’re selling directly to a client, you set a price and that’s it. With auction you don’t really know what’s going to happen. Why not push boundaries and see what happens? Everybody does it - they just lie about it. I’m constantly being persecuted for being honest,” he laughs. Unlike many galleries, Lazarides does not work with the secondary market, focusing on largely young primary-market emerging names.
Banksy and Lazarides haven’t worked together for around seven years.“I don’t think we’ve spoken since 2008,” he considers. Nonetheless, Lazarides is the expert in Banksy’s market. “There aren’t many dealers and artists that have the kind of relationship that we had. It was an intense decade of being in each others’ lives. With the paintings, I probably know everything about them. With the screenprints, I was getting them printed, I numbered most of them. I then wrapped them up and stuck them in a fucking tube.” The Bonhams print sale, however, does not represent the gallerist’s desire to wash his hands of the artist, and he still has a significant personal holding on his work.

“I think the market has become so solid. The interest from people around the world is quite significant,” Lazarides muses. “This work has to really be absorbed into an overall umbrella of contemporary art. People like Shepard Fairey, Os GĂȘmeos, Vhils, JR, Conor Harrington - I think they’ve broken the shackles of being just urban artists. It’s not chumps buying the work. It’s very, very serious collectors.” 

The gallerist has uncovered a vast collection of unsigned prints that he sold to a secondhand furniture dealer on Brick Lane in the early days of Banksy’s career. The works were still in the packing Lazarides has presented them in. He brokered a deal to have access to this archive. Although unsigned, the works still have strong authenticity for Lazarides’s involvement and his relationship to Banksy. The gallerist also intends to find a way of releasing some of the unsigned prints on the market—aware that there are still 1.5 million people buying Banksy’s book who all wish to own a piece by the artist ..."

The auction in London is on January 28th (that is today people!) and included in this sale is none other than Kate Moss (Purple, Orange) from 2005:
Not one to miss an opportunity, we emailed the Director of Sales enquiring as to kate’s availability and price. We received the following response:

Hi ishotkatemoss,
Hope you're well and thanks for getting in touch.
This actually comes with all the other 5 colourways as a set of 6 for £500k.
I do have a single original colourway available for £95,000 + vat if of interest?
All the best

So, without factoring in tax (which may be able to be waived if we are taking it out of Europe, so as to hang on our fine NY walls), the single kate would set us back only US$145,000 plus shipping! For those who are looking for a slightly more affordable and tacky kate colorway, don't forget the Russell Marshall's inventory.
If anyone is seriously considering such a purchase, we’ll leave the last word to the subversive artist so many of us admire. With echoes of the Christie’s London kate sale that prompted our very own ishotkatemoss collage, on February 22, 2007, the day after Sotheby’s London sold three Banksy works, all of which soared above their auction estimates and into the six figures, the elusive and anonymous British graffiti artist updated his website with the following image of an auction house:
Observe. Slow Down. Shoot. Submit.

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