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KAWS (American, b.1974)



How much are original KAWS paintings worth?

KAWS is one of the premier urban artists working today, his pieces reflect that in their worth. KAWS has sold many paintings for millions of dollars. On the low end, some of his vinyl figures can be had for a thousand dollars or less. The most ever paid for a KAWS painting was for the acrylic on canvas piece, The KAWS Album (2005), which sold for $14,855,240 on April 1st, 2019. It is a prototypical work from the artist, a KAWS/Simpsons/Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band mashup that exhibits KAWS’ predilection for mish-mashing cultural references together.

Who is KAWS? 

KAWS (born Brian Donnelly) in Jersey City, NJ, is most famous for being a true genre-bending, 21st-century urban artist. His work is heavily influenced by graffiti and animation, as well as traditional painters such as Gerhard Richter and Chuck Close. His work incorporates pop iconography -- The Simpsons and Sesame Street have appeared in his pieces. He is perhaps best known for his Companion figure which has appeared in graffiti, sculptures, giant inflatables, and as a vinyl toy for KAWS’ brand, OriginalFake.

After years of being entranced by the New Jersey graffiti movement (he spent his early elementary school years copying images of local graffiti onto notebook paper), it was only natural that KAWS emerged from the early nineties New York graffiti and urban art scene. His brilliant images were produced on billboards, bus stops, and other public spaces, where he gained notoriety for his funky and cartoonish aesthetic. While initially concentrated in New York, KAWS graffiti spread as his popularity did, becoming highly sought after in art centers like Paris, London, Berlin, and Tokyo in the late nineties.

How did KAWS get started?

KAWS graduated from the School of Visual Arts in New York in 1996 and began working as an artist for Disney. He painted the background for popular animated series of that era including Doug, 101 Dalmatians, and the MTV program Daria. It was during this time that he became interested in the way that animation could affect us on a fundamental level. In a 2007 interview, KAWS stated that he, “found it weird how infused a cartoon could become in people's lives; the impact it could have, compared to regular politics.”

What is KAWS famous for?

KAWS is best known for his creation, Companion, a cartoonish Mickey Mouse-inspired character that continuously appears throughout KAWS’s work. Originally a 2D image, KAWS designed a series of limited edition vinyl toys featuring Companion in the second half of the nineties. This led to collaborations with other urban art luminaries like Nigo, as well as commercial collaborations with Nike for the Air Jordan 4, with Kanye West on his clothing line, and with the MTV Video Music Awards, where he created a Companion-inspired redesign of the classic MTV award.

Indeed, KAWS art has been integrated into the very fabric of pop culture in a way that many of his other urban art contemporaries hasn’t. He has created animation for M&M commercials (2017), the bottle design for Pharrell’s unisex perfume, Love for Fairer Sex (2014), the design for a limited edition Hennessy Cognac Bottle (2011), and a purse for the Nancy Gonzales’ fashion line (2016). These endeavors have raised KAWS’s profile and further blurred the line between commercial and high art -- an ambiguity that KAWS seems to revel in.

What kind of art does KAWS make?

KAWS creates urban art influenced by graffiti and the commercial world. He is best known for his character, Companion, which he routinely juxtaposes in popular television shows, pieces of art, and commercials. His work appears in commercials, on skateboards, and in galleries, making him one of the most versatile and in-demand artists working today. 

Where can I buy KAWS paintings for sale?

Bid or buy KAWS paintings for sale below. At Heritage Auctions you can bid online about a month prior to the auction date, and during live auctions you can bid online, in person or over the phone. You can even make an offer to the owner who previously purchased a KAWS painting. Watch for new paintings from KAWS by saving a want list so you’ll be notified of any new works for sale.

Why buy original KAWS paintings from Heritage Auctions? 

Art buyers feel confident because our experts know the market and put careful valuations on artwork for sale. We make the bidding process easy to help expand your art collection.

How to lookup KAWS original painting values?

The best way to value art is to compare past auction prices for similar works. At Heritage Auctions our final selling prices remain visible for all to see, including any buyer’s premiums paid. View KAWS’s past sale prices below. 

Where to get an appraisal for KAWS?

The first step in any art valuation is authentication. If you are unsure of the authenticity of the artwork, then Heritage Auctions art experts can help. When you’re ready to sell, contact Heritage Auctions to request an estimate of the likely selling price at auction. If you need a formal written appraisal for estate planning or insurance, please contact our Appraisal Services department.

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