Art Auction: Prices Soar, but No Million Dollar Sales this Time

by Patrick Bain

042122B-1024x536 Art Auction: Prices Soar, but No Million Dollar Sales this TimeWith the latest Heritage Signature Art Auction in the books, are you relieved or disappointed that there are no million-dollar sales prices?  If you previously owned preliminary art of Spider-Man’s black costume from Amazing Spider-Man 252, maybe you held out hope to recreate the 3.36 Million-Dollar Zeck Sale.  But for average art enthusiasts, how do million dollar prices make you feel?

Art Auction Prices Under a Million

Amazing-Spider-Man-252-prelim-art-e1650550267340-300x251 Art Auction: Prices Soar, but No Million Dollar Sales this TimeThe Spider-Man in black still burns hot for investors, even though preliminary art from ASM #252 failed to recreate the million-dollar magic of Secret Wars 8.  Regardless, the 72 grand someone paid for sketches is pretty significant! Does that make you feel better?

What did a lucky fan get for the old home museum?  To begin with, the lot included Ron Frenz’ Amazing Fantasy 15 homage that would make it to the cover of issue 252.  Add to that a style guide picture of a statuesque web-slinger in his new black duds.  Now here’s what makes this lot an awesome museum addition–the 22-page rough draft of the first story featuring the now-legendary black costume.  And the cherry on top, that would be Roger Stern’s script!  Combine these with the original cover art, and we can open that museum today.

And just one more note, page 9 from ASM 252 sold for a paltry $100,000 about a month earlier.  It was the 6th PAGE to feature Spider-Man’s new costume, so no wonder it was dirt cheap.

Millions for Jack Kirby Art? Not Quite

Tales-of-Suspense-59-e1650550240597-210x300 Art Auction: Prices Soar, but No Million Dollar Sales this TimeDoes anyone know what kind of cigar Jack Kirby enjoyed?  His prices finished “close but no cigar” at achieving the million-dollar Heritage Auction milestone.  Kirby owner wannabes (like myself) won’t feel much better, though.  Captain America’s big splash in Tales of Suspense 59 couldn’t be any more iconic.  The price matched the power of that page fetching $630,000.  It now ranks first among Kirby pages at HA.  That’s fitting for Cap’s Silver Age solo series debut by his Golden Age co-creator.

Frank-Frazetta-Orn-e1650550203875-250x300 Art Auction: Prices Soar, but No Million Dollar Sales this TimeCan you name four guys with bigger sales prices than Kirby on a single piece of original comic art?  Well, none of them have the nickname “The King”: Mike Zeck, Wally Wood, Herb Trimpe, and Todd McFarlane.  Regardless of what you think of those guys (and close competitors like Neal Adams and Frank Frazetta), doesn’t it seem like Jack Kirby ought to own the record?  Don’t feel too bad, 24 Kirby pieces have exceeded $100,000 with half in the COVID pandemic era.

Note, I excluded Frazetta because his super-high dollar paintings were for book covers.  The cover painting for Orn sold for $504,000 at the signature auction.  His highest comic art fetched $552K, the cover of Famous Funnies 209 with Buck Rogers back in 2019.

Bain or Bane – Talking DC Villains Scoring Big

Bane-1-Page-45-Graham-Nolan-and-Eduardo-Barreto-e1650550168543-207x300 Art Auction: Prices Soar, but No Million Dollar Sales this TimeWith a last name of Bain, I get a lot of comments like “you’re the bain of my life”.  Admittedly, I was flattered when one young guy said ‘Bain’ was a cool name.  No doubt because of the topic of the next art in this article.  Two significant Bane works reaped massive drug-induced(?) prices in the recent auction.

One of my favorite artists, Jim Aparo scored big with Batman #497 Page 22 featuring Batman’s back-breaking defeat at the hands of Bane.  That art sold for $78,000, about 25 grand more than any Aparo art at HA before this auction.  However, a page from Batman: Vengeance of Bane #1 did even better reaping $84,000.  Graham Nolan’s Bane art sells well, but the next best HA sale ended at $22,800 counting the buyer’s premium.

Man-of-Steel-19-195x300 Art Auction: Prices Soar, but No Million Dollar Sales this TimeDC heroes have been brutalized lately.  Doomsday art also sold well in the April auction.  While Superman sometimes seems to be a forgotten character, the villain that killed Superman reigned supreme in Man of Steel #19.  Page 14 from that Death of Superman story segment also fetched the gut-wrenching price of $84,000.  You may just want to pick up a copy of Man of Steel 19 for about $75 in CGC 9.8.

To Cel or Not to Sell for a Million

Batman-the-Animated-Series-Harley-Quinn-e1650550129208-255x300 Art Auction: Prices Soar, but No Million Dollar Sales this TimeContinuing the villainous theme, how about the first appearance painted cel of Harley Quinn?  At first blush, I wondered if someone was as crazy as Joker to pay $156,000 for a cel from Batman the Animated Series.  Generally, there could be hundreds of similar paintings to make a cartoon. But it appears this was a one-of-a-kind publicity painting.  Artist unknown.

Avengers-82-e1650550072169-205x300 Art Auction: Prices Soar, but No Million Dollar Sales this TimePersonally, for the same $156K, I would have preferred Avengers 82 cover art by Marie Severin, John Buscema, and Tom Palmer.  It has age, known artists, headline characters, but no first appearance appeal.

Mad, Crazy, or Both?

Mad-48-by-Kelly-Freas-e1650550040125-279x300 Art Auction: Prices Soar, but No Million Dollar Sales this TimeIf all of this seems mad, or makes you feel mad, you’re not alone.  While no art sold at this auction for a million dollars, prices soared across the board.  For that reason, it seems appropriate to focus this summary on something truly mad– art by Kelly Freas for Mad #48.  Surprising to me, the $108,000 sales price is NOT the most for some Mad works at HA.  Norman Mingo’s back and front cover painting of Alfred E. Neuman sold for $203K back in 2008.

On the other end of the price spectrum, do enjoy Hawkeye 5 Page 3 which sold in the same auction for $84.  Not $84,000, just $84.  I’ll take some of that, please.

What did you think about these auction results? Let us know in the comments!

Upgrade2_Footer Art Auction: Prices Soar, but No Million Dollar Sales this Time*Any perceived investment advice is that of the freelance blogger and does not represent advice on behalf of GoCollect.

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