The Hype Surrounding KAWS Companions
There’s something about Brian Donnelly’s, aka KAWS, work that intrigues a wide range of audiences across the globe. From fine art collectors to hypebeasts and streetwear connoisseurs, he seems to always be doing something that grabs the attention of art fans. As excitement spreads through the art community over the record breaking sales at Sotheby’s auction in Hong Kong, where THE KAWS ALBUM (2005) sold for 14.8 million USD, I wanted to explore how the more affordable KAWS collectables resell. I figured a good place to start would be with his Open Edition KAWS Companions, where KAWS teams with Medicom to produce scaled down vinyl versions of his sculptures. They typically go on sale for a limited time or at select locations, like the MOMA, demanding long lines, and crashing websites like MOMA, as the release time gets closer.
So how much would I profit, if I decided to buy each release, and resell them all now on a site like Stock X?
The Data Behind KAWS Companions
To find out (and to prove a point to my fiancé ), I dove into KAWS Companion releases since 2016 and collected each of the retail prices. I only did this for the vinyl toy releases, not plush, merchandise, or other collaborations (I’ll likely explore other product types later). Then, I tapped into Stock X, where I gathered the most recent sale price (as of March 15, 2019) to determine just how much profit I could have made if I had purchased each of the releases, and re-sold them towards the end of Q1 in 2019.
Below you’ll find each release, since 2016, and the total cost you would have spent if you purchased each Companion at retail cost, per year. In a little over 3 years, you would have spent about $8,000 on just his Open Edition vinyl toys. If you sold all of them mid March 2019, you would profit over $3,000. Collecting in 2018 alone and reselling just three months into 2019 could have made you over $2,000 profit.
Top Kaws Companions for Resellers in 2019
Digging a little deeper, we see the top profiting Companions all from 2018. His Pink BFF spiked after the Dior collaboration, fetching around $1,200 from collectors on Stock X — a $920 profit. His Together release, where two Companions are hugging, have asks between $600–$1,000 USD, where one could profit $665 after re-selling the brown version less than a year later.
Investing in KAWS Companions
Based on the data above, the average KAWS Companion, between 2016 and Q1 2019, would have cost me $266. There are a few that, after fees and shipping, I might have lost some money on if I sold. But on average, if I bought them all, I could have profited around $100–$150 per Companion — A solid investment, IMO. To find out when the next KAWS drop is happening, head on over to his Instagram for clues and release dates, or Stock X to compare retail and resale values.
Methods and Notes:
As I mentioned above, this project was created to explore if KAWS Companion releases are a good investment. To begin, I focused on Open Edition KAWS Companion releases, beginning in 2016. I collected the retail price, and then the most recent sale price on Stock X as of March 15, 2019. Stock X’s seller fees and retail shipping costs were not taken into account for this look.
Please note: I am in no way affiliated with KAWS or Stock X. This project was produced for fun and to explore resell prices for personal interest only.
Visualizations created with Tableau and Photoshop.