Avid Art Buffs Camp Out for Chance to Collect Works by Grayson Perry and Anish Kapoor

These fans sure are dedicated!

RCA Secret 2

Postcard at “RCA Secret”.
Photo: Courtesy of the Royal College of Art.

Think you can spot a Grayson Perry artwork when you see one? Your powers of discernment should come in handy at the Royal College of Art‘s (RCA) annual auction, which offers up original postcards by renowned artists such as Perry and Anish Kapoor.

This Friday, the RCA kicked off their 22nd iteration of “RCA Secret,” an exhibition of nearly 2000 works which are all auctioned off at a starting price of £55 ($77). But here’s the catch: The winning bidders aren’t privy to the artist behind their prize until after the auction closes. Interested collectors, then, are invited to play a game of “who made what?” as they take their stabs at identifying the artists behind the postcards.

(A similarly-anonymous Postcards From the Edge fundraiser from Visual AIDS takes place in New York each year.)

"RCA Secret" Auction.<Br>Photo: Courtesy of Aine Duffy.

“RCA Secret” Auction.
Photo: Courtesy of Aine Duffy.

With heavyweights like Steve McQueen, Zandra Rhodes, and Peter Blake also in the mix this year, the RCA Secret auction is arguably one of the most star-studded university-run fundraising events in the art world. Notable participants in previous years count Zaha Hadid, Paula Rego, and John Baldessari, just to name a few. But the RCA is apt to reassure collectors that even if an item wasn’t made by whom they’d hoped, they may very well be holding a piece by the art world’s next big star.

According to the RCA’s website, this year’s auction has adopted a new format for the sale. Buyers may purchase their postcards during the week-long exhibition, allowing visitors to swing by and play ‘guess the artist’ just for fun. Those interested in placing a bid can do so at the exhibition itself or online.


Photo: Courtesy of Aine Duffy

In a phone conversation with artnet News, Aine Duffy, head of communications for the RCA, said that eager bidders have been camping up outside with makeshift tents for the past week. The first person on cue, according to Duffy, is a man named Lee, who’s spent the last 10 days living out of his tent. This is his tenth year coming to the RCA auction.

“What’s so unique about the event is that everyone has fun, whether making the artworks or buying the artworks,” Duffy said in a follow-up email.

The money raised goes to the RCA fund, which offers scholarships for students who face financial hardship.

RCA Secret 3

Postcard at “RCA Secret”.
Photo: Courtesy of the Royal College of Art.

“RCA Secrets” will be on view at the Royal College of Art, Kensington Gore, London, April 8–April 15, 2016.

Follow Artnet News on Facebook:

Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.
  • Access the data behind the headlines with the artnet Price Database.
Article topics