Sotheby’s recently announced that it will be selling a total of 25 works by the artist, whose real name is Brian Donnelly, from the collection of the late video game entrepreneur Ryan Brant. The collection of works will be offered across a series of sales at Sotheby’s around the world from Sept. 26 to spring 2020.
KAWS’s market has been experiencing plenty of peak-highs lately. It was only a few months ago when The Kaws Album (2005) sold for a record-breaking $14.8 million at Sotheby’s Hong Kong, smashing its $1 million estimate. Overall, 15 of the artist’s highest auction prices have all been realised during the past year.
Now, because of Brant’s collection, the market is likely to continue peaking with Sotheby’s clearly cashing in on the global demand the artist continues to see, mostly from Asia. Three works will be featured first in Sotheby’s Contemporary Curated sale in New York this week, and seven others will be offered at the Hong Kong contemporary sales in October. Another nine will be included in the New York prints sale, also in October, and seven more will be sold online.
Brant was the founder of video game publisher Take-Two Interactive, as well as the son of mega collector and publishing magnate Peter Brant. His game-publishing company was behind some of the world’s biggest video games like Grand Theft Auto, NBA 2k or Red Dead. The late Brant junior left behind a massive collection of paintings, decorative arts, and furniture when he died of cardiac arrest in March at age 47.
Earlier this summer, KAWS left his longtime dealer Emmanuel Perrotin and is now exclusively represented by Skarstedt Gallery, with branches in London and New York. Skarstedt announced its first KAWS London show, called “KAWS: Blackout,” opening on October 1. According to the FT, 10 new abstract paintings will be shown, priced between $450,000 and $575,000 each, as well as two sculptures priced at $850,000 each. KAWS is also currently being featured in a major exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne.
Should all this market activity concern KAWS collectors? Some experts don’t think so, saying that Brant’s collection is in fact an extremely valuable one and given the massive global demand for the artist, the peak prices are in fact, reasonable.
Speaking to artnet, Larry Warsh, an early supporter of KAWS said: “Ryan was a very astute buyer from what I can see, with the genetic intuition that his father, Peter Brant, had. 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.”