Is it time to cash in on KAWS?
Sotheby’s has announced plans to sell 25 works by the art-market phenomenon (also known as Brian Donnelly) from the collection of the late video game entrepreneur Ryan Brant. The wave of works by the in-demand artist will be offered at a series of auctions worldwide over the next six months.
The KAWS haul is part of 130 works assembled by Brant, the founder of software and video game company Take Two Initiative and the son of top collector and publishing magnate Peter Brant, heading to the block. The younger Brant died this past March at age 47 from cardiac arrest.
KAWS’s market has been heading into overdrive lately. This past spring, The Kaws Album (2005) sold for a record-smashing $14.8 million at Sotheby’s Hong Kong, shattering its $1 million high estimate. The artist’s 15 highest auction prices have all been achieved within the past 12 months, with notable buying from Asian collectors.
Now, market-watchers can buckle up for a whole lot more thanks to Brant’s collection. Three KAWS works from the haul will be featured in Sotheby’s “Contemporary Curated” sale in New York this week, with seven others on offer at the Hong Kong contemporary art auctions in early October. A further nine will be included in the New York prints sale that month, and seven more will be offered in an online-only sale of works from Brant’s collection. Don’t Sink (2013), a circular painting that will hit the block this Thursday, is estimated at $250,000 to $350,000.
KAWS parted ways with his longtime dealer Emmanuel Perrotin this past summer and is now exclusively represented by Skarstedt Gallery, which has branches in New York and London. KAWS’s first London show with the gallery, “KAWS: Blackout,” opens on October 1. He will present 10 new abstract paintings priced between $450,000 and $575,000 each, according to the FT, as well as two bronze sculptures ($850,000 each). KAWS is also the focus of a current sprawling exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne.
With all this activity, should KAWS collectors worry about the market getting flooded? Neither Perrotin nor Skarstedt responded to artnet News’s request for comment by publication time. But Larry Warsh, an early and ardent supporter of KAWS, is not worried.
“Ryan [Brant] was a very astute buyer from what I can see, with the genetic intuition that his father, Peter Brant, had,” Warsh told artnet News. “He certainly understood artists and what it means to anticipate what happens when an artist gets popular. He was very smart about the KAWS works he collected.” Considering the current level of global demand, Warsh added, the estimates for the KAWS material appear “reasonable.”
Brant’s holdings also include work by Francesco Clemente and Kenny Scharf as well as design pieces by the Campana Brothers and Gaetano Pesce.