Sotheby’s Comic Art Auction Brings in $4.1 Million

Hergé, Le Sceptre D'ottokar (1939) sold for €327,000 ($359,795) at auction.
Photo: courtesy of Sotheby's Paris.


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

The sale was led by two original Tintin drawings by Hergé. Honneur au jubilaire (1938), originally published in the Belgian newspaper Le Vingtième Siècle children’s supplement, Le Petit Vingtième, sold for €453,000 ($498,431), just under its high €480,000 pre-sale estimate. Hergé published his first Tintin story, Tintin au pays des Soviets (Tintin in the Land of the Soviets) in Le Petit Vingtième in 1930. Another Tintin original illustration, this one from Le sceptre d’Ottokar, sold for €327,000 (about $350,000), well above its €270,000 pre-sale estimate.

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

The auction featured mostly the work of European comic artists, such as Hugo Pratt and Alberto Uderzo, though several prominent North American comic artists were represented and also performed well, with auction records set for Dave Stevens, Chris Ware, and Will Eisner. The top American lot was a Dave Stevens acrylic and crayon illustration of the Rocketeer for the first issue of The Rocketeer Adventure Magazine, which fetched €60,000 ($66,017).

Dave Stevens, Rocketeer (1988) Rocketeer Adventure Magazine #1

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

A 1907 Winsor McCay drawing for the strip Little Nemo in Slumberland, which first appeared in The New York Herald in 1905, sold for €50,000 ($55,015), above its €48,000 estimate. Art from Chris Ware’s Jimmy Corrigan, The Smartest Kid on Earth sold for €26,250 ($28,883), well above its €12,500 pre-sale estimate.

This sale was one of three high-profile comic art auctions taking place this month. Two Christie’s Paris comics sales are to take place March 14. One notable lot, an original ink drawing featuring Tintin and advertising a French bookseller, bears an estimate of €700,000 (nearly $750,000).

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