Your high school art projects? Worth about $1. Kanye West’s high school art projects? Worth thousands.
Artwork created by the rapper back when he attended Polaris High School in Chicago was appraised at $16,000 to $23,000 on an “Antiques Roadshow” episode that aired this week.
In April 2019, West’s first cousin’s husband brought a large collection of West’s work for collectibles expert Laura Woolley to appraise during a taping of the PBS series at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, Arizona.
“My husband is Kanye West’s first cousin. When Kanye’s mother passed away in 2007, my husband received them as part of the estate about a year after she passed,” he explained while standing beside only a small part of the collection.
The five works highlighted included pieces done with graphite, gouache and scratchboard techniques. The collection also featured a flyer for West’s first known art showing from 1995.
“This flyer is really interesting because it gives the full background of his entire artistic training up until that point,” says Woolley in the clip above. “I have to say he has a very impressive resume having attended the Hyde Park Art Academy at age 4, the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago State University [and] Nanjing University in the People’s Republic of China.”
Woolley then notes that by age 17, when West was at the Polaris School, he had “already been studying at these extraordinary artistic institutions, and my favorite part of this flyer is actually the very end” ― where there’s a passing reference to his work in music “as well.”
West’s cousin-in-law explains that the star’s late mother, Donda West, was the reason he was so well-trained.
“She traveled all around the world and he went everywhere with her,” the cousin-in-law says, adding: “His mother pushed him to do anything that he wanted to do and made sure that it was available for him.”
Woolley offered a measured appraisal, telling West’s cousin-in-law that while the rapper is “a controversial figure with his opinions and his career, I don’t think anyone can deny the fact that he has extraordinary talent and I think that, in time, I would expect these to continue to appreciate.”
“To have early pieces like this from someone who really will be an important cultural figure of our time I think is really fantastic,” she says.
Woolley valued the largest piece at about $6,000 to $8,000 and other smaller works ranging from $2,000 to $7,000 each.
“Altogether, just for this grouping, $16,000 to $23,000 at auction,” she says.
You can watch the entire exchange above.
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