Into the often stolid world of anonymous collectibles and quiet finds on TV’s Antiques Roadshow recently came a cache of early artwork by Kanye West, who before his rise as a rapper was a not-untalented teenage artist with a twisted vision and a steady hand. A guest on the show whose husband is West’s cousin brought in work acquired after West’s mother died in 2007, and appraiser Laura Woolley—a former worker in Sotheby’s collectibles department and founder of the Collector’s Lab in Los Angeles—selected five works to highlight from “a great number” of others in the lot.
“I think these pieces demonstrate an extraordinary facility as an artist,” Woolley says in a segment that aired on Monday on PBS. Up for consideration were two drawings in graphite, a painting in gouache, and two scratchboard works—“all really exceptionally well-done,” in Woolley’s opinion.
Also notable is the inclusion of a flyer for West’s first showing as an artist when he was 17, with a worldly list of institutions at which he had been educated up to that point: Hyde Park Art Academy, the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago State University, Nanjing University in China, and the Polaris School for Individual Education. (It also mentions that he would soon begin schooling at the American Academy of Art in Chicago.)
On the subject of art made by stars before they were famous, Woolley says the market can fluctuate: “We see the values rise and fall along with the popularity of a celebrity.” Then she’s bullish about the future for West. “Despite the fact that some people might say he’s a controversial figure with his opinions and his career,” she says, “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.”
The largest work on display, a drawing of an abstracted man in shackles, she appraises as worth between $6,000 and $8,000 at auction. A smaller drawing she puts at $2,0000–$3,000, with an additional $3,000–$5,000 for a small portrait, and $5,000–$7,000 for a pair of woodland landscapes on scratchboard.
Watch the full segment below.