Paris: Although not a newcomer to auction houses, Tintin, the immortal comic book-turned-cartoon character, topped bidding prices in March on works exhibited in Christie’s and Sotheby’s auction houses.
The bids reflect a growing interest for collectors and investors in Tintin’s memorabilia, the steadfast character created by Belgian artist Herge, who is always on the lookout for mischief and adventure.
Accumulating Tintin collectables is by no means a new trend, for example in May 2014, an authentic painting drawn in 1937 was sold at a record-high of $3.4 million at the Artcurial auction house in Paris.
The ink-drawing depicts Tintin and his famous dog Milou (Snowy in English) in 34 different scenarios, representing a series of Hergean adventures, one of which includes a story that would have been located in Nordic lands but the Belgian artist never finished it.
The two most famous auction houses in the world want to get a piece of the Tintin action: For the first time Sotheby’s will exhibit several of the character’s adventures, while Christie’s sold several pieces totalling about about $4.3 million last year.
Sotheby’s will exhibit 288 authentic works on Saturday, 50 of which belong to Herge, such as pencil drawings that have an estimated value of around $3,800, in addition to the “Le Petit Vingtieme” drawing, an impressive portrayal of Tintin with his dog Milou and other characters, with an initial bid of just under $490,000.
However, the real anticipation lies in the largest Tintin drawing, where Herge’s character towers upwards of 75 centimetres high, according to the catalog.
Other works will be exhibited in the auction, such as “King Ottokar’s Sceptre”.
There will be small and rare pieces, such as bronze statues of Tintin bearing the signature of Belgian artist Nat Neujean, and accompanied by a certificate from Herge.
One week after Sotheby’s, it will be Christie’s turn at the podium, when it will exhibit 10 Herge pieces including the authentic 1978 cover of the magazine, “Le journal de Tintin”.
Gallery owner and Christie’s partner Daniel Maghen told Efe news agency: “I’ve been trying to convince Christie’s to sell comic stories for five years now. I think the fact that an auction house as such, selling comic stories gives it a new dimension, as it is now recognized as a type of art, exhibited in auction houses.”
Maghen believes that Tintin is the most famous character, “it has no competitor rival worldwide,” shadowing even other European characters such as Asterix.
Meanwhile, comic book expert Olivier Souille, and advisor of Christie’s, confirmed that this is the first time a catalog composed of Herge’s works has been put on sale.
“If you want to place comics in an auction you have to have Tintin, it is the best known character. It is not just a character from comic books; it is in cartoons, cinemas and other associated derivatives,” Souille told Efe.
Souille explained that Herge’s works sold millions of copies around the world over the years, spanning “four different generations.”
To pave the way, Christie’s held an exhibition from February 27 through March 4 in New York featuring paintings and drawings that will later be available at the March 14, 2015, exhibit to entice US collectors.