I love giving advice to others on investing in valuable art pieces.
Bob Dylan has been producing art alongside music all of his career, but it was only in 2008 when his first gallery exhibitions, The Drawn Blank series, went on sale to the general public.
These prints sold out fairly quickly, with an average limited edition selling for between £1,500 and £5,000. The secondary market for Dylan art remains very scarce. Very few pieces appear on sites like eBay and very few early prints are available to buy through galleries.
But while having a signed Bob Dylan print is something to show off about, is having the singer's art a good investment? This article will give a better idea of what you can expect from buying a Dylan piece.... and whether the art increases in value.
Availability of Dylan's Drawn Blank Series
Bob Dylan art is available direct from the publisher's website at www.bobdylanart.com. This is where each new series is sold as well as in galleries.
A quick look on here reveals that most of the pieces from the early years are now sold out. Certainly the most popular items from 2008 and 2009 are sold out. These pieces include Train Tracks, Woman In Red Lion Pub and Man On A Bridge.
Availability is always a good sign or value. If something is scarce, it is worth more. Is your print sold out on the official Dylan site? Can you find it for sale anywhere else online? If the same print is not available to buy anywhere, then your copy has some value. If somebody desperately wants that print, they will pay a higher price for it.
Which Dylan Prints Are Worth the Most?
By far the most popular of Dylan's prints is Train Tracks. In 2008, the four piece portfolio sold on release for £40,000. The Man On A Bridge and Woman In Red Lion Pub four piece portfolios sold for £20,000 each.
Size also matters...
Standard format is the smallest size, and worth less. Medium format and large format had a lower print run, so they are considerably more expenisve and have a higher value.
There are still pieces from 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 that are available to buy directly from the publisher. But are the ones that are left over really the ones that are in most demand from collectors? I would suggest not.
A quick Google search for the term 'Bob Dylan art for sale' shows a very similar story. There are pieces available from a few galleries, but it is not a big choice. The best selection I found was at Chelmer Fine Art.
Some have fixed prices while more rare pieces require a call to the gallery, which will then presumably put on a big premium but be open to offers and negotiation.
So in general, the availability of the most desirable pieces in the Drawn Blank series is very low. In normal terms, that would make the pieces more valuable. But as with everything Dylan does, it is not always the case.
Have Dylan Prints Increased in Price?
This is the big question for fans and collectors that bought a Drawn Blank print - how much is it worth!
The cost of buying pieces direct from the official Dylan Art site has gone up. In that respect, the value has increased. Take a look at this....
2013: The Horse print from the 2010 series was available for £1,500
2016: The same print is now £2,500
(I'm actually kicking myself that I didn't buy this one at the time as it's my favorite. Instead I bought a 2008 print of Man On A Bridge.)
So although the value of new prints has increased, the big test is this; can a print be sold on the secondary market for more than the price paid?
The answer is no. Pieces sold on eBay and art auction houses actually sell for less or the same as the original gallery costs. Neither pieces of art or the extras tend to fetch over the price of their initial cost. In other words, apart from galleries buying direct from the published and adding on their own premium, the value of Dylan art has not increased.
Take the piece pictured to above. It's called Cassandra, and is one of Dylan's most popular pieces. It was produced as part of a four piece portfolio in 2010. However, this blue and black version of the print was listed on eBay for £795 - less than the price new from a gallery - and it received no bids.
Or take a look at these sale prices...
The pieces above sold on eBay for very low. The Fisherman print from the 2009 Drawn Blank series sold for just £1533.15 as a Buy It Now. The 2009 series Sunflowers print sold for just £880 after an auction.
Upon release, these prints cost £1,250 + VAT. However, the Dylan team gradually increased the price as the supply became lower.
According to their website, the final price of them before they sold out was £4,500 for Fisherman and £5,000 for Sunflowers. Check them out below.
There is clearly a big gap between the gallery valuations of new Dylan prints and what they are worth on the secondary market.
As an investment, it is not a good idea to buy these if you are looking for a big price increase over the short term.
Will the Value of Dylan Prints Increase?
It has only been a few years since most of the art was released. Dylan is still producing new work, and still active as both a musician and painter. Indeed, new pieces in the Drawn Blank series of being released all the time. This only serves to lower the value.
This cannot continue forever. Dylan is a shrewd operator. While he knows that with each yearly release of a new series he can make a few million, he will be aware that this will not lead to the increase in value of his art.
We can therefor assume that soon the rate at which new pieces being released will decrease, if not stop all together. Add to this Dylan's age - now in his 70s - and we can see that he cannot maintain the longevity to carry on working forever.
Furthermore, the Dylan art team is making active attempts to increase the value by raising the initial sale prices from the £1,250 to £1,750.
At some point, the value of the pieces on the secondary market is likely to increase. Just not yet...and it could be 10 - 20 years until they do.
So Why Buy a Piece of Art by Bob Dylan?
Bob Dylan does not give autographs. Even in the 1960s, he was reluctant to give out signatures easily. Time has hardened him even more and after the 1980s he became acutely aware of his own commercial value. This included his sought-after autograph and signature.
As time has passed, it has become all but impossible to meet the man for anyone but those in his family and in his inner circle. Even long-standing friends have told how difficult it is to speak with him now.
If he seems remote, imagine just how hard it is to get an autograph. Virtually impossible. The only way to actually get his autograph signature is by purchasing a piece of his limited edition artwork prints, which are each hand signed by the artist himself.
There is some value just in having this signature.
Plus, there are other reasons to buy Bob Dylan are as an investment or to collect.
- You're a fan who loves everything Dylan does and want to add a piece of his art to your collection of Dylan items
- You want the prestige of having a Bob Dylan piece hanging in your house, bar, restaurant, gallery or shop
- You actually like the pieces, regardless of any interest in Dylan as a musician
- You believe that the value of the art will increase as an investment
If you've answered yes to all of the above, then it's probably a good idea to splash out on one of Dylan's limited edition prints in the Drawn Blank series.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Soren on June 09, 2019:
Has he really signed the prints himself, I doubt?
Michael Quinlan on October 19, 2018:
Initial prices quoted are incorrect.
I have the price list from 2008. Four piece sets of Train Tracks, Man on Bridge and Woman in RLP were all priced £3995 unframed, £5585 framed. I tried to buy 4xTrain Tracks THE DAY BEFORE the London show opened. The 295 edition was already sold out. So I bought the single Train Tracks cost £2495 framed. Per eBay it now sells for c£10,000. But this is the iconic image and worth a lot more than all the others.
John Marcantonio on October 18, 2018:
We have Motel Pool 2013 and would like to sell it,anyone interested?
Charles on August 21, 2016:
My wife obtained Bob Dylan's signature on a first edition of Chronicles after his concert in 2008. We did our homework and knew the hotel private entrance he would enter after the show. Also, Genesis Publications has been selling limited signed prints of Bob - each photo is numbered up to an edition of 25 and signed in black ink. There are ten different framed images and the portfolio consists of 250 total autographed pieces. As of this writing, 7 out of the separate images are SOLD out. 70 % gone - the selling price has increased as they have sold down and is currently 2500 pounds. They are gorgeous!
rokinronda on June 20, 2016:
Great perspective, atmosphere and creativeness.......MULTI TALENTED! I love to paint......google my name!
Rick on December 24, 2015:
Hi Alvero, you are pretty much correct about Bob Dylan autographs. He doesn't give them away easily. Even in the 1960s it was pretty hard to get one. But after the 80s he almost entirely stopped giving autographs apart from on very rare occasions. So yes, every 'authehntic' Dylan signature on eBay should be treated very cautiously - even if they come with a COA (which is a pretty worthless piece of paper as anyone can make these) . The only way to get a genuine Bob Dylan signature is by purchasing his art from a gallery.
ALVERO TUXEDO on December 23, 2015:
Bob released a number o f signed items in past few years. Set of Harmonicas, Limited edition signed guitar (on paper insert), and a grand total of 63 signed Tempest Cds (most sold on secondary markets were forged using photos from stock displays of people on a line as most were signed smudged a bit) and a limited edition of 50 signed "Lyrics" book.s The cost of a Lyric book was 12.000.00 I saw exactly TWO make the market at a cost of 15,000.00 Bob isn;t touching pens in person. Every single example on ebay of someone claiming they were "lucky" to get him is a LIE. he has. on extremely rare occasions actually signed in person. he signed a post card for a Male nurse because he liked the guys story of how he came to be in the same hotel. It can happen..but if you out there with a bonk or album trying.. the ink well is dry. The only known REAL signed album was the one he signed for CHUMLEE on Pawn Stars lol.
Evelyn Kirkbride on December 16, 2014:
I think rather a good fair and interesting article with a lot of sence