It seems that this blog has become a reference work for information on record and CD covers with cover art by the artist known as Banksy. And I find it very flattering. My aim, way back in the 00s, was to catalogue all record and CD covers with Banksy’s art, irrespective of whether or not the release used an authorised Banksy image. To date I have catalogued about 100 releases.
Banksy’s art has been sold as paintings, stencilled prints or silkscreen prints, the latter being the most commonly available. The prints are commonly limited editions, often in editions of 100 or 250 which may be signed or unsigned. Both are becoming scarce and command very high prices; witness the recent sale of Banksy’s painting Love is in the Bin for GBP 18 million. Signed prints of his more iconic works are currently (October 2021) on offer for GBP 100,000 to 200,000.
I bought Blur’s Think Tank LP when it was released in 2003 and the promotional Parlophone and Observer CDs around the same time. However, I didn’t start seriously collecting Banksy’s record cover art until around 2005. Back then I could buy the records as they were released and they cost no more that other 12″ records, so my set of Dirty Funker’s Future 12″-ers cost GBP 6.99 each; likewise my set of Dirty Funker’s Laugh Now / Keep It Real 12″-ers (there’s a set for sale on Ebay just now for GBP 10,000). The most expensive release I bought was Dirty Funker’s Let’s Get Dirty (the first press without the Dymo strips across Kate Moss’s eyes) from a fellow collector for GBP 100. I added more and more records and CDs as time went on.
Once upon a time, the most expensive Banksy covers were the two he had purportedly stencilled himself: the Capoeira Twins’ promotional 12″ 4 x 3 / Truth Will Out and Röyksopp’s promotional Melody A.M. double LP; each produced in editions of 100 copies, comparable to Banksy’s limited edition prints. However, the records have been selling for about a tenth of what an equivalent print would cost.
So, when I started collecting, the covers were affordable and remained so until about 2015 when prices began to rise. Now, however, many collectors are competing to find Banksy’s record covers and prices have skyrocketed. I am amazed (and shocked) to see someone trying to sell copies of Dirty Funker’s Flat Beat 12″ for between EUR 815 (about GBP 700) and AUD 6,500 (about GBP 3,500), and copies of Queen & Cuntry’s Don’t Stop Me Now are for sale on Ebay for about GBP 4,000! These prices are stimulating the production of forgeries. I am not sure all the copies offered for sale nowadays are 100% genuine.
Apart from the question of forgeries, there are other ways unscrupulous producers are cashing in on the willingness of collectors to fork out large sums for limited edition covers. These seem to be on the increase. Take TV-Age’s beautiful The Player EP (an apparently hand screened cover in an unnumbered edition, said to be 100 copies) or Boys in Blue’s two 12″ singles Funk da Police (unnumbered edition, said to be 100 copies) and Strawberry Doughnut / Thick as Thieves (numbered edition of 250 copies). In my view these have been produced exclusively to lure collectors of Banksy covers to pay large sums for worthless music.
Another group that is cashing in on the widespread interest in collecting record cover art are the Israeli producers of picture discs with art by a variety of artists ranging from Banksy (like this one) to Warhol. They sell via Ebay and generally cost around USD 300 for a single-sided, generally unplayable, 12″ single. I made the mistake of buying a couple of these to test. I hope nobody else will fall for the con.
Thus I have now decided in future to concentrate only on official releases with Banksy’s art. Several CDs and cassettes have recently surfaced that are unoffical and I will not join in the bidding for these, nor will I go for the latest Boys in Blue 12″. Let’s all agree to boycott the speculative releases and just concentrate on the legitimate ones.