Andy Warhol, the most preeminent Pop artist, rarely found himself humbled. But, when he came before Roy Lichtenstein’s earliest works, Warhol abandoned his own experiments with images of superheroes taken from comic books. As Warhol told curator Henry Geldzahler, “Roy was doing comics so well.”
Many others have likewise found themselves impressed by Lichtenstein’s works, which often take the form of comic-like images with Ben-Day dots left visible. On the market, Lichtenstein rains as one of the most expensive Pop artists out there.
The most expensive Lichtenstein ever may be his 1962 painting Masterpiece, which was once owned by Agnes Gund. Steven Cohen reportedly gave her $165 million for it in 2017 in a private sale; Gund then used the money to fund a new initiative focused on mass incarceration, criminal justice, and the arts. Public auctions of Lichtenstein’s work have so far not come close to that figure. Still, the artist’s top ten public sale records establish him among the ranks of the highest-selling artists at auction and a market bellwether.
Records are still mounting for the Pop master. Last July, Lichtenstein’s Nude with Joyous Painting (1994), which depicts a blonde heroine appropriated from a D.C. comic book series, sold at Christie’s for $46.2 million. The result made it the third-highest price paid for a work by the artist at auction.
Below, a list of the artists’s top public sales.