Why These 5 Fantastic Prints by Blue-Chip Artists Make Great Investments

These works by A-list artists are a smart option for first time collectors—or anyone looking for a sound purchase.

Andy Warhol, Orangutan (1983). Estimate $50,000–70,000
Andy Warhol, Orangutan (1983). Estimate $50,000–70,000

artnet’s latest online auction, Prints & Multiples: The Premier Sale, showcases historic and contemporary editions by the most in-demand artists on the market. From striking Pop prints to bold urban art, this major prints sale of the spring season offers an exceptional opportunity for collectors looking to acquire the very best the market has to offer.

Conner Williams, artnet Auctions’s Head of Prints & Multiples, shares five works that stand out as some of the best investment pieces in the sale—all by tried-and-true blue-chip artists.


Orangutan (from Endangered Species) (1983) by Andy Warhol

Warhol remains an auction powerhouse and the market for his prints has regularly outperformed financial markets and the S&P 500. That’s right: Warhol prints—of which there are many—have in the past been more solid than traditional investments.

The market for Andy Warhol prints compared against financial markets. Courtesy of the artnet Price Database.

The market for Andy Warhol prints compared against financial markets. Courtesy of the artnet Price Database.

Of particular note are prints from his widely appealing Endangered Species series from 1983, which have nearly doubled in value in the past five years. Among these, Orangutan is especially desirable; it is one of only 30 trial proofs that were produced aside from the regular edition of 150, each of which is unique in color. The wonderful contrast of this trial proof, along with its scarcity, makes it especially significant in terms of quality and value. Considering that the last trial proof we offered at auction sold for over $150,000, this print is being offered at a reasonable estimate of $50,000–70,000.


Girl with Balloon (2004) by Banksy

Banksy, <em>Girl with Balloon</em> (2004). Estimate $50,000–70,000

Banksy, Girl with Balloon (2004). Estimate $50,000–70,000

There’s no question that since his Sotheby’s stunt, Banksy has become even more entrenched in the mainstream art world that he once derided. Interestingly enough, this print contains the same image as the infamous self-shredding painting. Even before that fateful auction, it has always been one of the artist’s most sought-after subjects. In the past year alone, other examples of this print have come to auction and have seen considerable price bumps, with results clearing $80,000.


Composition II (1996) by Roy Lichtenstein

Roy Lichtenstein, Composition II (1996)

Roy Lichtenstein, Composition II (1996). Estimate $40,000–60,000.

The print market has always operated quite differently than the larger art market. Because of the editioned nature of the work, determining fair market value is usually quite easy. One simply needs to ask: When did it last sell? For how much? And what was the condition? This information is only a click away in the artnet Price Database.

But what if a particular print hasn’t come to auction in several years? That is what you call opportunity! This large and late Roy Lichtenstein has not appeared on the open market in three years, and with the small edition of this print—only 50 were produced in total—this work is destined to sell.

It’s only a matter of how much it will go for, and to whom. As such, resale value will be strong into the future.


Oxford, Beverly, Western (1999) by Ed Ruscha

Ed Ruscha, Oxford, Beverly, Western, 1999.

Ed Ruscha, Oxford, Beverly, Western (1999).

There are few living artists like Ed Ruscha. Though best known for work he created in decades past, he is still respected and very much sought-after for work that he’s producing today. While Ruscha’s works are clever and often instantly visually gratifying, there has always been a blunt authenticity behind them. I think this modus operandi has contributed to his market growth, just as it has for his contemporaries Vija Celmins, Bruce Nauman, and John Baldessari.

While his unique works—paintings and works on paper—will easily run into the six and seven figures, Ruscha’s prints are also solid acquisitions (and look great on any wall). This large print of an intersection is from a very small edition of 20 and does not often come to auction. It’s the largest print he ever produced on this subject, measuring an impressive at six feet in length.


Ra (Inverted) (1981–2009) by Bridget Riley

Bridget Riley, Ra (Inverted) (1981–2009).

Bridget Riley, Ra (Inverted) (1981–2009). Estimate $20,000–30,000.

For such an important artist, British-born painter and printmaker Bridget Riley’s market is greatly undervalued, and for now, UK collectors are keener than their US counterparts on her work. But the number of Riley lots offered at auction in the past few years has increased significantly, which could be a sign of a strengthening market. It seems long overdue: she’s a long-established and internationally recognized artist and was recently highlighted by art advisers as an artist to watch in 2019.

Bridget Riley Works Offered in London vs. Other Venues

Bridget Riley works offered in London vs. other venues.

Find these and other works in Prints & Multiples: The Premier Sale, live for bidding now through April 4 exclusively on artnet Auctions.

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