DALLAS – Gil Elvgren’s sultry but sweet portrait titled Thinking of You (Retirement Plan) sold for $209,000 to lead a record setting selection of pin-up art in Heritage Auctions’ May 7 Illustration Art Signature® Auction in Beverly Hills, Calif. The $2.1 million auction set multiple artists records including a new high for contemporary artist Patrick Nagel, as two works sold for $161,000 each.
“Pin-up art was strong across the board,” said Todd Hignite, vice president of Heritage Auctions. “Illustration art in general remains extremely popular with collectors but the interest in Gil Elvgren’s work – and that of other giants – is simply outpacing all expectations.”
Collector interest for Nagel’s work has placed him squarely in the pantheon of the 20th centuries most popular illustration artists as (Untitled) Her Look, 1983, and Untitled (Woman with Horse), 1983, each sold for $161,000, surpassing the artist’s previous record, also set by Heritage. Paintings by Nagel secured four of the auctions’ top 10 most valuable lots with Profiles of a Man and Woman, 1983, brought $56,250 and Partial Nude, The Playboy Forum illustration, May 1984, ended at $31,250.
The remaining top lots were dominated by Elvgren’s classic pin-up paintings produced for Brown & Bigelow, including A Real Stopper (Now I’ll do the Whistling), which sold for $68,750, and Captivating, which hammered for $53,125. A Refreshing Lift, painted in the 1970s, sold for $46,875, and Worth Cultivating (A Nice Crop), sold for $37,500.
Pulp and paperback art also generated strong results as Doll of Death, the Spicy Mystery pulp cover from August 1938 by Hugh Joseph Ward sold for $37,500. Margaret Brundage’s shocking The Blue Woman, the September 1935 cover of Weird Tales, sold for $20,625 and Lizards from Hell, Will Hulsey’s outrageous February 1957 cover for True Men Stories, brought more than eight times its estimate to end at $17,500. The April 1940 cover painting to Fantastic Adventures magazine, titled The Blue Tropics and painted by Frank R. Paul, sold for $15,000. A strong selection of paperback cover art was led by the fantastical Dark of the Woods, 1970, by Jeffrey Jones, which hammered for $20,000.
Original ad art performed well as Gil Elvgren’s A Cool Beverage, a preliminary beer advertisement, blasted its $8,000 estimate out of the water to end at $22,500, while George Petty’s Art Deco infused original They All Say Yes, a likely Atlas beer advertisement, sold for $5,937.
Additional highlights include:
– Beauty in a White Dress with Rose, Brown & Bigelow calendar illustration by Al Buell. Price realized: $22,500.
– Flat Tire, The Saturday Evening Post cover, Nov. 24, 1962, by Jan. B. Balet. Price realized: $18,750.
– Hi-Heel Beauties, EYEFUL magazine cover, February 1947, by Peter Driben. Price realized:$17,500.
– Weyr Search, Analog Science Fiction and Fact magazine cover, October 1967, by John Schoenherr. Price realized: $15,000.
ADDITIONAL IMAGES OF NOTE