Sotheby’s comic book auction brings in $ 4.1 million

Art investors may want to consider starting their own comic book collection. Saturday’s Sotheby’s Paris comic auction fetched 3.8 million euros, or roughly $ 4.1 million, hitting the high pre-sale estimate and setting several auction records for artists from the comic. This was the second comic book auction at Sotheby’s Paris, and the results indicate a significant improvement. The first, in 2012, brought in € 645,225 (approximately $ 700,878); at this auction, only 27 of the total 89 lots sold, just under a third. Saturday’s sale saw 189 works sold out of 288 lots, or nearly two-thirds.

The sale was animated by two original drawings by Tintin d’Hergé. Honor to the jubilee (1938), originally published in the Belgian newspaper The twentieth century child supplement, The little Twentieth, sold for € 453,000 ($ 498,431), just below its high pre-sale estimate of € 480,000. Hergé publishes his first tale Tintin, Tintin in the land of the Soviets (Tintin in the land of the Soviets) in The little Twentieth in 1930. Another original illustration by Tintin, this one by Ottokar’s scepter, sold for € 327,000 (around € 350,000), well above its pre-sale estimate of € 270,000.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the sale was a sketch of Astro Boy (circa 1980) by Japanese cartoonist and animator Osamu Tezuka, which more than quadrupled his pre-sale estimate of € 5,000, selling for € 23,750 ( approximately $ 25,000). Tezuka has been described as the father of Japanese manga.

The auction mainly featured the work of European comic book artists, such as Hugo Pratt and Alberto Uderzo, although several prominent North American comic book artists were represented and also performed well, with record breaking records for auction for Dave Stevens, Chris Ware and Will Eisner. The best American prize was an acrylic and pencil illustration by Dave Stevens of The Rocketeer for the first issue of The Rocketeer Adventure Magazine, which reached € 60,000 ($ 66,017).

Dave Stevens, Rocket (1988) sold for € 60,000 ($ 66,017), setting a record for the artist.
Photo: courtesy of Sotheby’s Paris.

A 1907 drawing by Winsor McCay for the strip Little Nemo in the Land of Sleep, which first appeared in The New York Herald in 1905, sold € 50,000 ($ 55,015), above its estimate of € 48,000. Chris Ware Art Jimmy Corrigan, The smartest kid in the world sold for € 26,250 ($ 28,883), well above its pre-sale estimate of € 12,500.

This sale was one of three high profile comedy art auctions that took place this month. Two Christie’s Paris comic sales will take place on March 14. A remarkable lot, an original ink drawing featuring Tintin and advertising a French bookseller, is estimated at € 700,000 (nearly $ 750,000).

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Daniel K. Denny