Over the past few weeks I have received many e-mails and calls regarding the value of his art, prints and original works. It’s been a good ten months since the allegations were first printed in the press and as we hear the news that Rolf has been sentenced to five years and nine months. Here are my thoughts on the situation and hopefully an answer to some of your questions.
I know many people have purchased prints and originals by Rolf. There are probably over 100,000 limited editions in circulation and its probably safe to say that up until this time last year everyone that owned a piece actually admired Rolf impressionistic technique plus his ability to replicate old masters.
The fact many of us sited him as a ‘national treasure’ makes it much harder to believe what he has been convicted of. Now we all probably view his work (in our homes) and in galleries somewhat differently.
So what does this mean with regards his value?
I’d mentioned previously other artists whose personal reputation have been tainted by similar scandals, yet these are often pushed to the margins over the quality of their work and still remain desirable.
Rolf however lives in a very different society to that of those examples, and for the better. The nature of his crimes are today absolute societal lows. Rolf called have actually murdered someone and he wouldn’t be so widely and openly detested, and it sticks to. With this in mind I can see no real come back for the value of his work, even years down the line from now.
The originals may see some bounce back, but I wouldn’t count on it and as for the signed limited editions, not generally purchased with investment in mind anyway unless you’re buying Lowry or Banksy prints. Most prints tend not to hold their retail value and are usually purchased due to a very personal connection.
I’m under no illusion though that some people will have bought RH prints as investment pieces. As with anything bought for investment, even what seems like the safest commodity can suffer a dramatic (or crash).
So what advice can I give to someone who owns an original or print and most likely paid a reasonable penny for it?
This s difficult to say. Some people I’ve spoken with believe that in a few years the news will be forgotten and prices will rise, hence the rush we’ve seen already by some people to snap up cheap Harris’s.
There has been speculation over the years that the prices of Rolf’s original works were increased due to his celebrity status rather than his artistic ability (I have my own thoughts on the quality of his work that I won’t disclose here), which if so means his artwork like his celeb status is now dead in the water.
But then there are those speculators who think there will be a turn around, if you think they have something, stick it under your bed wait a few years, see how things go. If you really like the piece keep it on your wall, I wouldn’t expect it to go down well at dinner parties though…
If you do have a piece and are worried about selling it or simply having it, I’ve seen reports of bonfires then the best thing to do is contact the gallery you got it from or wack it on ebay, you never know some speculator may give you at least some of what paid back.