Collector enthusiasm for the works Gil Elvgren remains undiminished as the great illustrators’ work dominated the top 10 lots of Heritage Auctions’ $3,000,000+ March 3 Illustration Art Signature® Auction, led by Vision of Beauty (Unveiling), 1947 (Realized: $140,500) and Let's Eat Out, 1967 (Realized: $104,500), both of which come from the continually prolific Estate of Charles Martignette. All prices include Buyer’s Premium.
The auction, featuring 872 lots overall, finished with a final sell-through rate of 98% quantity.
“Fully seven of the top 10 lots in the auction were from Elvgren,” said Ed Jaster, Senior Vice President at Heritage. “His inexhaustible well of talent continues to be the benchmark by which most every other illustrator is measured. It’s as clear as it’s ever been that collector’s consider him the Gold Standard, with every painting bearing his name well-exceeding pre-auction estimates.”
The other Elvgren highlights of the auction include “I Hope the Boys Don't Draw the Straws Tonight,” Brown and Bigelow calendar illustration, 1946 (realized: $68,500); The Winner (A Fair Catch), Brown and Bigelow calendar illustration, 1957 (Realized: $59,375); On the Fence, 1959 (Realized: $59,375); “Everything Seems Awfully High Around Here!” 1946 (Realized: $54,688) and Pin-up in Front of the Fireplace (Realized: $43,750).
A world record price was established for an original Charles Addams New Yorker Magazine cartoon as his Sad Movie, New Yorker magazine cartoon illustration, March 23, 1946 – one of the most famous of all Addams Family cartoons, soared amongst spirited bidding to the final price realized of $40,625, demolishing its pre-auction estimate of $12,000+ as well as the previous record of $16,100 for his art at auction.
“This beautiful watercolor is one of the most memorable Addams Family originals to ever come onto the market,” said Todd Hignite, Vice President at Heritage Auctions. “The uncaptioned image of Uncle Fester gleefully taking in a sad movie as the audience around him is reduced to tears is truly the definitive example of the master's mordant wit has been reprinted numerous times.”
The work of pulp master Hugh Joseph Ward continues to draw broad attention from serious collectors and his Spicy Adventure Stories cover, April 1937 was no exception. The evocative oil painting doubled its pre-auction estimate to finish the day at $62,500. Enoch Bolles also showed his continued star power as his “The Goal Rush is On!”, Film Fun magazine cover, November 1934 obliterated its pre-auction estimate more than eight times over to realize $56,250.
As evidenced by the high sell-through and strong total, the market for all genres of Illustration art is excellent across the board. Further highlights include, but are not limited to:
Dean Cornwell, On Target – Let's Finish the Job, Body by Fisher/General Motors advertisement, 1945: From the Estate of Charles Martignette. Realized: $37,500.
Norman Rockwell, The Roadblock, preliminary drawing for the Saturday Evening Post cover, July 9, 1949: This Post cover image represents one of the most fondly remembered of Rockwell's famed run and comes from the peak period of the 1940s. Realized: $32,500.
Earl Moran, Her Reflection: From the Estate of Charles Martignette. Realized: $30,000.
Amos Sewell: Backyard Campers, Saturday Evening Post cover, Sept. 5, 1953: Realized: $27,500.
Heritage Auctions, headed by Steve Ivy, Jim Halperin and Greg Rohan, is the world’s third largest auction house, with annual sales more than $800 million, and 700,000+ online bidder members. For more information about Heritage Auctions, and to join and gain access to a complete record of prices realized, along with full-color, enlargeable photos of each lot, please visit HA.com.