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How Much is L.A. Street Art Worth at Auction?

12:59 PM PDT on September 22, 2015

Julien's Auctions, based in Los Angeles, has a large "Street Art" themed auction coming up later this week which includes pieces by many Los Angeles-based artists like Retna, Mar, Sand, Kofie, Shark Toof, and Chaz Bojorquez.

The highest-profile works for sale are large Banksy pieces, including a mural created on a wall in Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank in 2007. The portion of the wall with the mural has been excised and is said to be "the largest and most significant intact Banksy mural in existence from his visit to Israel."

Another piece "ripped from the streets" but closer to home is a Shepard Fairey wheat paste of Johnny Rotten which is said to have been created while Shep was out bombing with Blek le Rat on Sunset Boulevard near The Guitar Center in 2007.

There are many issues with street art auctions, such as the removal of the art's essential context and thus meaning, the neutering the political intent of the artist, and the mixing of artists who rarely if ever put in work on the streets with those that have made their reputation there, but we've gone over all of those on this site before. Like it or not, street art auctions are here to stay and there's something to be learned from them.

For this auction, we thought it would be interesting to see how much works by the various L.A. street artists are expected to sell for. What conclusions can be drawn from these prices? We really have no idea, but it's interesting to get an insight into the commercialized version of nominally illegal art.

We reached out Julien's Auctions to get more insight into their handling of L.A.-based artists. Megan Mulrooney, head of private sales, gave us some insight into a few, which we've reproduced below. After that, we've collected some of the more significant pieces by local artists along with expected lot prices. You can bid yourself starting today online, with the live auction taking place on Sept. 30th.


Local artist Mar aka Stephen Guilbert, part owner of Sicky's Eyewear, has 3 pieces in the sale; one, titled Malibu Sunrise, is estimated at $10,000 - $12,000. The painting embodies Mar's signature style with intersecting leaf motifs accented by the bold black acrylics which can also be found on La Brea near the gallery that represents him LABART. Julien's Auctions was the first to sell MAR at auction with his piece featuring Homer Simpson's head titled "The Thought of You" in 2014 achieving a price of $7,068.00.


LA Based CANTSTOPGOODBOY is a crowd favorite. At the young age of 25, he has already worked with such LA based companies like Sony, Warner Bros., Serj Tankian, Atlantic Records, Coachella Music Festival, Absolut Vodka, Converse and TOMS Shoes, Sol Republic, and the Audience. This is the first time CANTSTOPGOODBOY's art is available at auction with works expecting to fetch $4,000 - 6,000 (Lots 170 & 171 Mane Parts) and  Why Is Everyone So Obsessed with Mid-Century Modern with an rainbow digital light exploding Mickey Mouse set to fetch $15,000 - $18,000.


WRDSMTH, self described as a 'writer doing time in LA', is one that all Angelenos have seen - although they might not know it... His witty one-liners and vintage typewriters engage walkers in all parts of L.A. including Runyon Canyon, Pacific Ave in Venice, and Downtown LA are just a few places you can see WRDSMTH's inspiring and thought provoking quotes. Both Lot 89, DO NOT GIVE UP and Lot 8 A SINGLE WISH are set to sell $2,000 - $4,000. WRDSMTH's ode to LA ---- "Dear L.A., I love you. I hate you. I love you. I hate you. I love you."


Since making waves in the media for his playful street hoaxes, WILD LIFE has become a well known player on the Los Angeles street art scene. In 2012,WILD LIFE gained notoriety for his guerilla takeover over the city's landmarks with his project titled "Art Appears" where he put up what appeared to be "official city plaques" falsely signed by MOCA curator Jeffrey Deith and then Mayor Anthony Villagarosa in 8 areas of downtown L.A.  about dumpsters, palmtrees, city blocks with faux information often attributing the "works" to artists such as Yoko Ono, Chris Burden, Jean Michel Basquiat, etc... WILD LIFE debuts at auction with Lot 217, his sculpture  titled "ART PERTINDER" with estimates of $1,000 - $2,000. Art Pertinder features a Monkey with wings standing on top of nailed Art History Books. One doesn't have to be an art history major to know who he's making fun of....

Now let's take a look at some other L.A. artists and lots, and see what the estimates look like...


RETNA - Posa
Estimate: $50,000 - $70,000


2WENTY - Social Cigarettes
Estimate: $6,000 - $8,000. 


SHEPARD FAIREY - Johnny Rotten
Estimate: $8,000 - $12,000
Reportedly executed on a construction sight wall on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, California, during an outing with friend and fellow street art icon Blek le Rat. A photograph of the work shown before removal together with an additional work by Blek le Rat, featured subsequently as lot 81 in this catalog, was published by KCET in conjunction with an interview with Blek le Rat (link to article and image). Shepard Fairey acknowledges on his web site “bombing” with Blek le Rat on Sunset near Guitar center.


Estimate: $14,000 - $16,000


SHARK TOOF - Boy, Girl, and Two Wolf Show
Estimate: $2,000  - $4,000


SAND ONE - Mascara Baby
Estimate: $2,500 - $4,000


Estimate: $15,000 - $25,000


KOFIE - The Circulations of Her Linear Curiosity
Estimate: $5,000 - $7,500


NOMADE - Vende Vidi Vici
Estimate: $2,000 - $4,000


Estimate: $200 - $400


LOUDLABS - Make No Pattern
Estimate: $1,000 - $2,000


SYLVIA JI - Cherry Blossom
Estimate: $3,000 - $5,000


SEIZER - Untitled
Estimate: $200 - $400


RON ENGLISH - Camo Deer in Autumn
Estimate: $800 - $1,200


CRAOLA aka GREG SIMKINS - My Shield, Your Arrows
Estimate: $1,000 - $3,000


SEPTERHED - The Sky is Not the Limit
Estimate: $3,000 - $5,000

View all the items up for auction here.

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