Xavier Prou, the man whom you all know well by his moniker Blek le Rat, is certainly a legend in the world of street art. After all, he is the Father of Stencil Graffiti, the man who inspired a generation of young artists all over the globe. Most importantly, he made a great influence on Banksy himself, one of the most popular stencil artists ever. On various occasions, Banksy stated that every time he thought he painted something slightly original he found out that Blek le Rat has done it as well, only twenty years earlier. One of my favorite literary scholars Harold Bloom described this situation as "the anxiety of influence", where a young artist is horrified by his precursors, fearing that he will never be able to create something truly original. On the other hand, it is an interesting thing to note that Blek le Rat had his first exhibition in 2008 at the exact same time when there was a craze over Banksy’s pieces at the art market. Is it a coincidence or not? It is definitely an interesting theme to ponder on. And while we are discussing the art market I guess you are interested in finding out how expensive Blek le Rat pieces are. Today we are presenting ten of his most expensive artworks, but you can certainly check the performance of his other pieces at auctions as well.
Take a look at the history of Blek le Rat’s artworks at auctions here, and scroll down to see which are the most expensive ones!
The first artwork on the list is the tenth most expensive Blek le Rat piece. Entitled Danseuse étoile, or Prima Ballerina if you prefer English translation, the piece brings to life the black and white ballet dancer against a spray painted wooden palisade. Just like Edgar Degas, Blek le Rat did a fair share of ballerina’s in his career and some of them are among his most recognizable pieces. Danseuse étoile was sold in 2012 at Artcurial (Briest, Poulain, F. Tajan) auction house in Paris for $20,000, fetching a hammer price twice above the high estimate.
For detailed auction report check out the artwork page!
Whether it is his fine art education, or something else that triggered the appreciation for classic art but Blek le Rat often incorporates some of the most recognizable imagery and motifs from the past into his stencil works. Playing with the notion of sound similarity between the words faun and fawn, the artist created a portrait of a mythological creature naming it The Fawn. This piece was also offered for sale by Artcurial (Briest, Poulain, F. Tajan) auction house and it reached the hammer price of $22,000, 25% above the high estimate.
The Man That Walks Through Walls is Blek le Rat’s self-portrait created in 2007. It was first sold at Bonhams, London for $22,000 in 2008, achieving the hammer price almost three times bigger than the high estimate. When it was put on sale by Digard auction house in Paris this year, things didn’t go as planned. The artwork was estimated modestly between $4,400 and $6,600 and in the end it was sold for $3,960, even below its low estimate.
For trend line and further auction analysis check out the artwork page.
You are now probably wondering if I made a mistake. Trust me, I didn’t. It’s just that 2007 was certainly a year of narcissism for the artist. Just kidding of course. Very similar to the previous piece and titled the same this artwork is larger than the last one and it was made in the edition of 3, unlike its twin which saw 10 editions. The highest price it achieved is $23,000 at Cornette De Saint Cyr auction house in Paris but it is not the only time it was put on sale. There is an interesting story of auction results behind this piece.
In his career, Blek le Rat also did the series of images representing the homeless people and individuals marginalized by the society. These pieces are among his most notable ones. Entitled Beggar and created in 2016 the artwork depicts a hooded young man with his hand reaching out to the beholders. The highest hammer price for this piece was $25,000 in 2008 at Christie’s in London, but five years later it failed to achieve the high estimate and it was sold for $8,700 at Digard in Paris.
Check out the in-depth analysis here!
David a la Kalashnikov is just what the title says it is. Literally it’s the stenciled statue of a David with a Kalashnikov rifle. A humorous and a little bit disturbing take on one of the most significant Renaissance masterpieces with a signature rat at his feet. The piece was sold for $28,000 at Artcurial (Briest, Poulain, F. Tajan) in Paris, going 31% over the high estimate.
For more information regarding the piece, visit the artwork page!
Again a piece inspired by the ancient Roman times. The representation of Cupid opens another dialogue with the history of arts. The depicted subject and background reminiscent of the Roman architecture are juxtaposed to the brick walls at the bottom of the painting. This interesting piece was left without a title was sold at Christie's London back in 2008 for a significant amount of $29,000, slightly above the high estimate.
Check out the complete auction report here!
Another interesting portrayal of the ballet dancer found its way closer to the top of the list. Danseuse no. 2 is Blek le Rat’s most expensive piece no. 3. That’s right it is the third most valuable artwork by the Father of Stencils ever to be sold at auctions. The piece was sold at Aguttes auction house in Lyon for $36,000 back in 2011. And it was a great hammer price considering the high estimate was $26,900.
Click here see details about the artwork!
Again an exciting dialogue with a classic piece of art. This time with Venus de Milo or Aphrodite, if you prefer Greek name, in the main role. The famed portrait of a goddess appears to be an unexpected feminist statement from Blek le Rat, if we interpret his artwork based on the title and the decision of the artist to return the lost hand to Venus just that she can flip the bird. This one really makes me laugh and the lucky acquirer of this piece must feel really excited about it too, as he or she did spend $42,000 on the painting. The piece was sold at Cornette De Saint Cyr Paris in 2011.
Check out more details here!
And we’ve finally reached that last artwork on our list. It is truly an amazing one and it does look somewhat similar to another most expensive artwork by another famous stencil artist. Any guesses? The first thing that came to my mind while writing this article is to check Banksy’s most expensive pieces, as there is certainly a line of similarities between the two artists. Perhaps another lucky coincidence, but if we compare the Banksy’s piece Keep it Spotless with le Rat’s Paint Ball Game it just looks wonderfully interesting how similar they are. Black and white stenciled character against a background filled with colorful spots and a segment of brick wall. I don’t know about you, but I find this astonishing. Anyway, Blek le Rat’s Paint Ball Game was sold for $45,000 making it the most expensive piece in the artist’s career and the final artwork on our list.
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