An original painting by Belgian illustrator and Tintin creator Hergé has sold for a record €2.6m (£2.3m) at an Artcurial auction in Paris.
The illustration was originally produced as the cover for Tintin’s fifth adventure, The Blue Lotus, but was rejected due to reproduction costs. A simplified version of the image was later used instead.
According to Artcurial, after a bidding battle between three clients on the phones it was sold to a private collector at the sale on January 14. The price including premium was €3.2m (25/20/12% buyer’s premium).
Artcurial said it was a new world record for a work by Hergé at auction as well as a new world record for any original comic strip work sold at auction.
The Adventures of Tintin and Hergé have a cult following and Artcurial have sold a number of collector items in recent years – this sale beats its previous records.
Eric Leroy, a comic strip specialist at Artcurial, said: “This sale confirms the excellent health of the comic strip market. Thanks to its unique characteristics, this masterpiece of the 9th art deserves this world record.”
Separately in the US, on the same day (January 14) Heritage Auctions in Dallas sold a near-mint issue of Batman #1 for a hammer price of $1.85m (£1.35m). The premium-inclusive price of $2.2m (£1.6m) sets a record for the most expensive Batman comic sold, according to Heritage (25/20/12.5% buyer’s premium).
The 1940s issue, the sole copy ever to receive a 9.4 grade from the Certified Guaranty Company, had previously been owned by collector Billy T Gates. He had bought the comic in 1979 from a comic shop in Houston, Texas, for $3000. He died in 2019 and his collection passed to his son.
The issue, featuring the debuts of the Joker and Catwoman, is now the most expensive comic book ever sold by Heritage Auctions.
Previously at Heritage a record for a Batman No 1 was set in 2013 when a 9.2 rated copy made a premium-inclusive $567,625.