NEW YORK—The Heritage Auctions sale of illustration art on March 1–2 in Beverly Hills, Calif., brought in a total of $3 million, surpassing the presale estimate of $1.5 million/2.3 million. Of the 872 lots on offer, 857, or 98 percent, found buyers.
A star of the sale was Gil Elvgren, an artist who was a commercial success during his lifetime: illustrating stories for the Saturday Evening Post and Good Housekeeping, creating pieces for Coca-Cola and General Electric advertisements, and providing pin-up images of scantily clad women for calendar makers. The pin-ups in particular drew strong bidding and prices.
The top lots in the sale were his oil titled Vision of Beauty, 1947, which sold for $140,500, compared with an estimate of $50,000/75,000, and his painting Let’s Eat Out, 1967, which sold for $104,500, compared with an estimate of $40,000/60,000.
Other strong prices seen for his works included, I Hope the Boys Don’t Draw the Straws Tonight, 1946, which sold for $68,500, compared with an estimate of $50,000/75,000; the oil titled On the Fence, 1959, which sold for $59,375, compared with an estimate of $40,000/60,000; The Winner, 1957, which sold for $59,375, compared with an estimate of $30,000/40,000; and Everything Seems Awfully High Around Here!, 1946, which sold for $54,687, compared with an estimate of $30,000/40,000.
Another illustration artist whose work sparked competition, was Hugh Joseph Ward, whose 1937 oil painting for the cover of Spicy Adventure Stories magazine, sold for $62,500, compared with an estimate of $25,000/35,000, while a watercolor and ink cartoon for the New Yorker, by Charles Addams, titled Sad Movie, 1946, sold for $40,625, compared with an estimate of $12,000/18,000.
Also, Norman Rockwell’s pencil drawing preliminary for a Saturday Evening Post cover, The Roadblock, 1949, sold for $32,500, compared with an estimate of $40,000/60,000.
A number of other pin-up lots surpassed their estimates, including Earl Moran’s undated pastel on board Her Reflection, which sold for $30,000, compared with an estimate of $7,000/9,000, and his undated pastel on board Pin-Up in a Green Sweater, which sold for $27,500, on an estimate of $5,000/7,000.