News-Antique.com - Jul 20,2009 - DALLAS, TX – Collectors will likely mark July 15, 2009 as the day the market for Illustration Art officially changed. That the date is the same day that marked the auction of the first section of The Charles Martignette Collection is no coincidence.
In its debut as part of Heritage Auction Galleries’ Signature July Illustration Art Auction on July 15 and Signature July Art of the American West & Texas Auction on July 16, the first portion of Martignette – some 311 works selected for these two auctions from the collection’s 4300 pieces – realized a very strong $2.6 million, with a virtually unheard of 99% sell-through rate. The results from the Martignette canvasses in the July 15 auction led Heritage to its most successful overall Illustration Art event yet, which topped out at $3.1 million, including Buyer’s Premium.
“By any reckoning we blew the top off the pin-up market,” said Ed Jaster, Vice President of Heritage. “It’s safe to say that it soundly exceeded not only our expectations, but also those of the collectibles and fine arts communities. There was so much interest, in fact, that the auction took more than seven hours to complete; the average for an Illustration Art auction is about four hours.”
While Charles Martignette is rightly known as the king of the pin-ups, his fantastic eye for the entire history of Illustration Art was more than evident in the top two offerings in the auction from his epic collection and impeccable taste in artists shown through in much more than glamour art. In fact, it was J. C. Leyendecker’s 1917 Kuppenheimer as diptych, A Proud WW I Sailor’s New Uniform, which led the offerings attached to his name with a $155,350 price tag. Martignette’s other high profile Leyendecker in the auction, The Hero’s War Story – the cover from the May 10, 1919 Saturday Evening Post – showed its enduring appeal at $101,575.
In the Western & Texas Art Auction on Thursday, July 16, 26 canvasses from Martignette’s estate were in the mix, and they brought in almost $500,000, led by William Herbert Dunton’s Western masterpiece, The Badger Hole (The Spill), which brought $143,400. J.C. Leyendecker, who led the previous day’s Illustration Art Auction, made another strong showing in the Western art auction when his illustration for the Howard Watch Company, Two O’Clock, brought $89,625.
Record prices were set for many diverse artists, including Peter Driben, K.O. Munson (more than three times the previous high), Vaughan Alden Bass and Al Buell (more than double the previous high), H.J. Ward, Emery Clark, Walter Beach Humphrey (more than three times the previous high price) Charles Gates Sheldon, Frederic Stanley and Monte Crews, whose Saturday Evening Post cover, The College Sweethearts, realized more than 10 times the previous record for a work by the artist, at $19,120.
“One of the great surprises of the afternoon was an astonishing record price paid for a work by James Avati, widely considered the greatest paperback book cover artist,”