Art world sensation KAWS is having a moment, as the auction house Christies declared last month.
The Williamsburg-based artist, whose real name is Brian Donnelly, has been compared with the likes of Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring for transforming his undeniably New York aesthetic into commercial success. Last year, his work pulled in nearly $34 million at auction, according to Christies.
Now he’s putting some of that into real estate.
KAWS paid $17 million to Thor Equities to purchase the 10,000-square-foot building next to his North 9th Street studio to allow for an expansion, Thor told The Real Deal. The deal works out to $1,700 per square foot.
Along with Colt Equities — the investment firm run by Jack Sitt, son of Thor CEO Joe Sitt — Thor paid $8.35 million in 2015 to buy the property at 93 North 9th Street. KAWS moved into the building next door at 101 North 9th Street in 2017 when he opened his studio there.
Jack Sitt brokered the sale to Donnelly, whose work is admired by such real estate owners as Edward Minskoff.
Minskoff, an avid art collector, installed a giant KAWS statue in the lobby of his building at 1166 Sixth Avenue as part of a renovation in 2017.
Elsewhere, Jeff Sutton’s Wharton Properties recently paid what’s believed to be a Williamsburg record–high $3,226 per square foot to buy a commercial building at 166 Berry Street, just a few blocks from KAWS’ studio.