Heritage Auctions whips up Thiebaud’s ‘Blueberry Custard’ for $3.2M

Blueberry Custard

Wayne Thiebaud (b. 1920), ‘Blueberry Custard,’ 1961, oil on canvas, 18 x 24in (45.7 x 61.0 cm), signed and dated upper right. Sold for $3,225,000. Heritage Auctions image

DALLAS – Wayne Thiebaud’s Blueberry Custard, 1961 sold for $3,225,000 in Heritage Auctions’ Modern & Contemporary Art Auction Nov. 20 to break the house record for the most expensive piece of Modern & Contemporary Art ever sold through Heritage Auctions. Absentee and Internet live bidding was available through LiveAuctioneers.

The painting (above) was one of 16 lots sold that came from the private collection of the late Russ Solomon, founder of Tower Records, and boosted the total for the auction to $5,106,231. Blueberry Custard sparked bids from multiple collectors, and exceeded its high estimate by 29%.

Blueberry Custard was exhibited at Thiebaud’s first show at Allan Stone Gallery in 1962,” said Holly Sherratt, Heritage Auctions’ San Francisco director of modern & contemporary art. “It hung out of public view and appropriately in Russ Solomon’s kitchen for many years until it was exhibited again at the Manetti Shrem Museum of Art in UC Davis in 2018. What a fun coincidence that we brought the painting to market as Thiebaud turned 99. I was honored to mark this important birthday with such a historically significant painting.”

Robert Arneson’s Poised to Infinity (below), 1991, one of three Arneson lots from Solomon’s collection, sold for $143,750, more than double the low estimate.

Blueberry Custard

Robert Arneson (1930-1992), ‘Poised to Infinity,’ 1991, bronze. 86 x 30 x 28in (218.4 x 76.2 x 71.1 cm), edition of three, signed and dated lower left: ‘Arneson 7-91.’ Sold for $143,750. Heritage Auctions image

“While Russ Solomon was the King of Music with a legendary ear, he also had an amazing collecting eye,” added Sherratt. “This bronze was one of many monumental sculptures that Solomon collected from local artists. His house was designed around his art collection and this sculpture stood in the entry courtyard welcoming Russ’s friends to his spacious art-filled home.

Ian Hornak’s Homage to Van Hysum (Baroque Flowerpiece with Minerals, A Monkey, and the Milky Way), 1989 sold for a record $22,500 surpassing the previous record of only $7,000.”

Blueberry Custard

Ian Hornak (b. 1944), ‘Homage to Van Hysu’ (Baroque Flowerpiece with Minerals, A Monkey, and the Milky Way),’ 1989, acrylic on board, 68½ x 50½in (174.0 x 128.3 cm), signed, titled, and dated twice on the reverse. Sold for $22,500. Heritage Auctions image

Other top lots included:

– Gilbert and George’s Tom (in four parts), 2001: $100,000.

– Larry Poons’ A Fortune of Solitude, 2001: $75,000.

Blueberry Custard

Larry Poons (b. 1937) ‘A Fortune of Solitude,’ 2001, mixed media on canvas, 80¾ x 93½in (205.1 x 237.5 cm), signed, titled, and dated on the reverse. $75,000. Heritage Auctions image

– Frank Stella’s Michael Kohlhaas panel #1, 1999: $50,000.

– David Salle’s Jim was Jim, 1980: $50,000.

– Alex Katz’s Untitled (Carmen), 2008: $55,000.

Blueberry Custard

Alex Katz (b. 1927), ‘Untitled (Carmen),’ 2008, oil on board 11¾ x 15¾ in (29.8 x 40.0 cm), signed and dated lower right: ‘Alex Katz / 08.’ Sold for $55,000. Heritage Auctions image

– Donald Roller Wilson’s The Point of It … and … The Butt of It … (diptych), 1990: $40,000.

– Donald Roller Wilson’s Untitled, 1995: $40,000.