Will Peter Max’s Mario Cuomo Portraits Surge in Value?

Peter Max. Photo: J. Grassi/Peter Max.

Former New York governor Mario Cuomo (father of current New York governor Andrew Cuomo) died of heart failure on January 1. Since his death, a lot of New Yorkers have been dusting off their political memorabilia in hopes of cashing in on nostalgia.

The New York Post reports that eBay currently has about 170 “Mario Cuomo”  items listed, ranging from buttons and autographs to slightly pricier items, including art.

Pop artist Peter Max did several portraits of Cuomo in the 1970s and ’80s, and said he plans to return to the studio to do more as a tribute. (Perhaps he’s also hoping this statement will clear up claims the Post made in December about his using a “ghost painter” to complete new artworks (see Peter Max in Hot Water Over Corvettes, “Ghost Painting“).

“[Cuomo] was one of the most interesting people I’ve ever met,” Max said. “Now that there’s a lot of interest about him, I’m thinking about pulling the paintings out and doing some new versions of them.”

Political memorabilia collector Mort Berkowitz owns one of Max’s Cuomo original portraits—a colorful poster divided into quadrants with four images of Cuomo and the words “A Tribute to the Governor of New York State.” Berkowitz believes the work will fetch about five times what he originally paid for it in 1974, when he bought it from Max, who was then his neighbor.

Berkowitz also predicts that “there will be a special exhibit for Mario Cuomo political memorabilia commemorating his long political career…Mario has staying power. He elevated everyone.”

The artnet Price Database shows that works by Max typically sell for a low estimate of between $1,000 and $5,000.

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