The Most Expensive KAWS Art Pieces at Auctions
Brian Donnelly aka KAWS is currently one of the leading figures when pop art is concerned.
Starting as a graffiti artist, KAWS quickly climbed the ladder to the art galleries worldwide, becoming a significant figure in the contemporary art world.
Drawing his inspiration from the popular culture iconography, KAWS has developed a unique style which blurs the lines between fine arts, illustration, and commercials. He is also one of the artists who has proved the art skeptics wrong when it comes to the value of vinyl toys, showing that their place is not to be underestimated in the luxury art market.
And while we’re talking about the art market you must be interested to see how successful are KAWS’ pieces at the auctions. Therefore, we bring you the list of most expensive KAWS’ pieces, finishing our list with the no.1. Can you guess what it is?
KAWS: Where the End Starts explores the artist’s prolific career in depth, featuring key paintings, sculptures, drawings, toys, and fashion and advertising designs. This extensive monograph, including contributions from Andrea Karnes, Michael Auping, Dieter Buchhart and Pharrell Williams, reveals critical aspects of KAWS’ formal and conceptual development over the past 20 years, as his career has shifted from graffiti to fine art and collaborations with designers and brands such as Comme des Garçons, SUPREME, Nigo (A Bathing Ape) and Nike.
Featured image: KAWS – The Kaws Album, 2005.
Companion (Resting Place), 2013 
This is another of only three life-size sculptures of Companion (Resting Place), a rare and particularly evocative rendition of KAWS’s ubiquitous COMPANION character. With its black body bisected, it reveals a colorful cartoon rendering of its anatomy. The sculpture evokes empathy, humor, as well as a meditative reflection on fragility and pathos of the human condition.
The piece was sold on September 30th, 2018 at Sotheby’s Hong Kong during their Contemporary Art Evening Sale for $700,662, soaring past its highest estimate by 83%.
More data on Companion (Resting Place) here!
Painted in 2015, Untitled features sizeable fluorescent forms that when viewed from a distance, converge to resemble a close-up detail of one of KAWS’s signature creatures with cartoon hands covering its X-ed out eyes. Masterfully executed, the piece illustrates the pristine lack of visible brushstrokes.
The piece was sold on November 25th, 2018 at Phillips Hong Kong during their 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale for $701,525, just over its high estimate of $637,750.
More data on Untitled here!
Kimpson Series, 2003 
Here is another piece from the famed Kipsons Series, featuring the Simpson family’s cat and dog. Both characters have the artist’s signature X’ed eyes, while Snowball is biting off the head of Santa’s Little Helper.
The piece was sold on April 1st, 2019 at Sotheby’s Hong Kong during their NIGOLDENEYE® Vol. 1 sale for $764,349.
More data on Kimpson Series here!
This is another version of the artist’s Accomplice but created at a towering height. Referencing a pink Bugs Bunny, the sculpture is an adult-sized toy, injecting humor into more mature notions of life and death. Drawing upon a connection to the art historical tradition of figurative sculpture, the work fuses childhood whimsy with a melancholic twist.
Offered by Phillips London during their 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale on March 9th, 2018, the work had the highest estimated price of $708,837 but reached the hammer price of $779,721.
More data on Accomplice here!
Moving The Mirror, 2010
The piece Moving the Mirror from 2010 feature an ingenious riff upon the world-famous cartoon character SpongeBob, distinctively redesigned through the artist’s signature X-ed out eyes, obstructing the character’s vision but magnifying his daunting aura. The cropped, close‐up perspective of SpongeBob’s features serve to re-contextualize the character’s instantly-recognizable buck teeth and a yellow hue. Both visually familiar and symbolically arresting, the piece combines the seriousness of adult concerns with childish associations.
The piece was sold on March 7th, 2019 at Phillips London during their 20th Century and Contemporary Art Evening Sale for $858,798.
More data on Moving The Mirror here!
In this 2015 work, KAWS embraces both popular culture and the tradition of abstraction through his iconic vocabulary of cartoon imagery. A striking example of KAWS’ signature shaped-canvas paintings, it is executed in the shape of a dolphin, imbued with a palpable, almost humorous energy. The work demonstrates the artist’s unwavering exploration of the possibilities of this medium, moving beyond the traditional rectilinear limits of the canvas plane
It was sold on May 15th, 2019 at Phillips New York during their 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale Afternoon Session for $1,124,000.
More data on Untitled here!
Keep Moving, 2012
The Mickey Mouse character has featured prominently in the work of KAWS. Although we only see his arms in Keep Moving, he is rendered to be instantly recognizable. Showing his arms cut off with blood dripping from the violent incision, this lovely childhood character is placed in an unexpected gore context. Mickey’s white gloves feature artist’s trademark crosses.
Offered by Phillips London during their 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, the work had the highest estimated price of $354,418, but reached the hammer price of the unbelievable $1,063,256!
More data on Keep Moving here!
Untitled (Mbfu9), 2015
A larger-than-life shaped canvas, Untitled (Mbfu9) features Snoopy from Charles M. Schulz’s comic Peanuts painted with saturated colors and precisely defined lines. Deconstructing the boundaries between popular culture and fine art, KAWS appropriates both Schulz’s famous character and the key characteristics of his style to create a painting that is compelling in its imagery, content and form. The artist once explained:
I think Peanuts is part of being a kid in America. Whether it’s the Great Pumpkin on Halloween or just seeing a different cartoon in the paper, it’s sort of around everywhere.
The work was sold on May 16th, 2019 at Phillips New York during their 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale for $1,340,000.
More data on Untitled (Mbfu9) here!
Again And Again, 2008
Again, we see the enlarged and widely recognizable face of one of America’s best-loved cartoon characters, SpongeBob. Magnifying, distorting and re-envisaging the character in this work titled Again and Again, KAWS offers a poignant social commentary on an image-saturated and media-obsessed contemporary society. As usual, the character’s eyes are crossed with pronounced Xs, suggesting the brain-numbing dangers of too much television.
The piece was sold on October 5th, 2018 at Sotheby’s London during their Contemporary Art Evening Auction for $1,122,032.
More data on Again and Again here!
Clean Slate, 2014
First unveiled in Hong Kong in 2014 as one of KAWS’ largest public sculptures, Clean Slate refers to wiping out the past and starting over again, stepping into the next stage of life. It features the popular COMPANION character on his feet, carrying two smaller COMPANIONS in his arms, embodying the new chapter in life.
After being exhibited at Phillips Plaza in New York, it was sold by the auction house on November 15th, 2018 during their 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale for $1,650,000, much more than its high estimate, becoming the third most expensive piece sold by the artist.
More data on Clean Slate here!
Chum (Kcb7), 2012
A boldly-colored canvas that immediately attracts attention, Chum (KCB7) features a Michelin Man-inspired character striding toward the viewer out of the wall. Featuring uniform planes of red, yellow, orange, blue, and purple, the character seems full of potential energy and movement. As other KAWS’s characters, it features the instantly recognizable X-ed out eyes.
The piece was sold on November 15th, 2018 at Christie’s New York during their Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale for $2,000,000, soaring past its estimate of $300,000 – $500,000.
More data on Chum (Kcb7) here!
Untitled (Kimpsons #3), 2003
Here is another work from the artist’s Kimpsons Series. Here we see an entire cast of the Simpson family on their living room couch. Set against a dark blue background, each character features their signature sprouting puffy crossbones and X’ed eyes. Almost sliding off the couch, the characters appear either drunk or dead.
The piece was sold on April 1st, 2019 at Sotheby’s Hong Kong during their NIGOLDENEYE® Vol. 1 sale for a staggering $2,165,654, soaring past its estimate of $509,566 – $764,349.
More data on Untitled (Kimpsons #3) here!
Kurf (Hot Dog), 2008
Another work epitomizing the playful dynamism and sophisticated manipulation of familiar imagery that distinguishes the acclaimed output of KAWS, Kurf (Hot Dog) is composed of vibrantly saturated colors and boldly defined forms. The figure is outfitted in the guise of a Smurf, the humorous woodland character familiar from innumerable comics and toys of childhood. However, it is marked by the artist’s signature ‘X’ eyes, a sinister and fascinating hallmark of his practice. Like many of his works, it examines the psychology of contemporary society through an intriguing cast of cartoon characters.
The work was sold on May 16th, 2019 at Sotheby’s New York during their Contemporary Art Evening Auction for $2,660,000.
More data on Kurf (Hot Dog) here!
Kurfs (Tangle), 2009
Created in 2009, Kurfs (Tangle) is a striking example of KAWS’s appropriative techniques and ability to infuse seemingly innocuous animated characters with wry humor and critical discourse. The artist depicted Kurf entangled in a lime green vine, sporting signature skull and crossbones head with ‘x’s for eyes. The personality of this otherwise ubiquitous children’s character is thus negated.
The work was sold on May 15th, 2019 at Christie’s New York during their Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale for $2,655,000.
More data on Kurfs (Tangle) here!
Untitled (Kimpsons), 2003
Another riff of The Simpsons, Untitled (Kimpsons) features the entire Simpsons family on the couch, but this time, seating neatly and getting ready to watch the TV.
The piece was sold on April 1st, 2019 at Sotheby’s Hong Kong during their NIGOLDENEYE® Vol. 1 sale for an amazing $2,229,350, soaring past its estimate of $509,566 – $764,349.
More data on Untitled (Kimpsons) here!
Untitled (Fatal Group), 2004
Painted in 2004, Untitled (Fatal Group) evinces KAWS at his most technically accomplished and conceptually resolute. Carefully balancing block colors and monotone shadows, the artist refigured the cast of the animated series The Fat Albert Show with their heads composed in the artist’s trademark cross-eyed skulls. At the same time, the piece alludes to the historical genre of the group portrait that was popularized in 16th and 17th century Europe.
The piece was sold on November 15th, 2018 at Phillips New York during their 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale for an amazing $2,251,250, soaring past its estimate of $700,000 – $900,000 and breaking the artist’s record.
More data on Untitled (Fatal Group) here!
Armed Away, 2012
A work boundless in complexity, Armed Away immediately draws the viewer into the artist’s explosive and instantly recognizable vibrant palette. Executed in impressive scale, it demonstrates KAWS’s proficiency as a colorist in a method seldom captured to this extent. The cartoon and comic imagery instantly convey the feeling of Roy Lichtenstein’s pop heroes and heroines, while the lively swathes of color and repetition of imagery inspire visions of Warhol’s effortless refinement of pop culture.
The work was sold on May 25th, 2019 at Christie’s Hong Kong during their 20th Century & Contemporary Art (Evening Sale) for $3,073,582.
More data on Armed Away here!
In The Woods, 2002
In the work In the Woods, KAWS depicted Snow White, an iconic character which has captivated the hearts of generations, renowned for the beauty, purity, and innocence that her name suggests. However, in this piece, her innocence is transformed into an acerbic critique. This interpretation takes on the sinister undertones with Snow White stripped of color, with her eyes crossed out in the artist’s signature X-marks style and her hair modified to the famed cross-bone design.
The work was sold on May 16th, 2019 at Christie’s New York during their Post-War and Contemporary Art Afternoon Session for $3,855,000.
More data on In the Woods here!
The Walk Home, 2012
A quintessential example of the artist’s ability to communicate complex human emotion through reclaimed cartoon imagery, The Walk Home depicts the ever‐popular animated character, SpongeBob SquarePants, rendered in an almost rubber-like matte finish. The character’s eyes are obliterated with his signature X-motifs. SpongeBob is surrounded by a dozen pairs of disembodied arms, echoing the protagonist’s own raised limbs. This emphasizes the magnitude of emotion captured in a single moment.
The piece was sold on May 16th, 2016 at Phillips New York during their 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale for staggering $5,000,000.
More data on The Walk Home here!
The Kaws Album, 2005
Created in 2005, The Kaws Album is an appropriation of appropriation, KAWS’s take on The Simpsons’s The Yellow Album, which is a riff on the cover art for the Beatles album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club. It features a whole cast of the artist’s Kimpsons characters with their signature sprouting puffy crossbones and X’ed eyes. Kimspons are accompanied by KAWS’s popular COMPANION, seated on the left of the composition. One of the most accomplished works on canvas the artist ever created, it epitomizes his entire artistic and cultural lexicon.
The piece was sold on April 1st at Sotheby’s Hong Kong during their NIGOLDENEYE® Vol. 1 sale for a staggering $14.7 million, setting a new auction record for the artist. The piece soared past its estimate of $760,000–$1 million to a spectacular finish.
More data on The Kaws Album here!