Auctions | February 27, 2012

A Record-Setting Comics Auction at Heritage

NEW YORK - Heritage Auctions Feb. 22-24 Vintage Comics & Comic Art Signature® Auction has officially become the single greatest comics auction ever conducted, realizing $8.9+ million over three days, completely obliterating the company’s previous world-record total of $6.03+ million set in May 2011. The auction garnered massive international media attention and captured the imaginations - and bids - of collectors all over the world.
“The mix of rarity, value and quality was simply irresistible to collectors,” said Ed Jaster, Senior Vice President of Heritage. “We knew that we had something special going in to this one, but we had no idea just how special. Now we know and we couldn’t be happier with the outcome. Consider this: before Heritage started Comics auctions more than a decade ago, no comic auction had ever exceeded $2.2 million. We’ve now almost quadrupled that.”
All told, the auction realized $8.3+ million on 1,854 lots, translating into a mind-boggling 99.9% sell-through rate by total value. All prices below include 19.5% Buyer’s Premium.
The star of the auction was, without a doubt, the inimitable Billy Wright Collection, which realized $3.5 million by itself, led by Wright’s incredible CGC FN+ 6.5 copy of Detective Comics #27 (DC, 1939). The comic brought $522,813, the third-highest price the Heritage Comics category has realized for any comic book or piece of original art in the comic category’s history.
“The Wright copy of Detective #27 was emblematic of the incredible quality of the collection,” said Lon Allen, Managing Director of the Comics Category at Heritage. “With just 345 comics in all, it featured fully 44 of the top 100 comics of all time, many in simply superb condition, which the uniformly great prices reflect.”
Other highlights from Billy Wright include Batman #1 (DC, 1940) CGC VF+ 8.5, which brought close to double the Overstreet Price Guide value when it finished the day at $274,850, All-American Comics #16 (DC, 1940) CGC VF 8.0, the first appearance of Green Lantern, which realized $203,150 on its way to becoming the most ever realized for any copy of this comic and Captain America Comics #2 (Timely, 1941) CGC NM 9.4, which became the rare non-major “Key” comic book to break the $100,000 mark when it realized $113,525.
The original comic art section of the auction was led by the incredibly rare Bill Watterson Calvin and Hobbes 1989-90 Calendar Cover Watercolor Illustration Original Art, circa 1988, which brought $107,550 from a determined high-end collector.
“We knew that collectors would love this piece,” said Todd Hignite, Vice President of Heritage Auctions. “Even so, we were impressed when this amazing rarity came in a double its estimate. Comic strip related pieces seldom command anywhere near this kind of money. Except for one Charles Schulz Peanuts Sunday strip, this is the highest price something from this genre has ever brought - quite fitting for such an iconic and important piece from the reclusive Bill Watterson.”
John Romita Sr.’s original cover art for Amazing Spider-Man Annual #3 Spider-Man vs. the Hulk and the Mighty Avengers (Marvel, 1966) was the other piece of original comic art that broke the six-figure threshold, bringing $104,563 when bidding had finished.
“We thought this had the look of a six-figure item,” said Hignite, “and it certainly didn’t disappoint.”
Further highlights of this World Record auction include, but are certainly not limited to:
Fantastic Four #5 Curator pedigree (Marvel, 1962) CGC NM 9.4: Easily the best copy Heritage has ever offered of the first appearance of Doctor Doom, one of the all-time great comic book villains. Realized: $65,725.
Steve Ditko The Amazing Spider-Man #22 Circus of Crime Battle Page 12 Original Art (Marvel, 1965): Here's to "Sturdy" Steve Ditko, who polished up another show-stopping Silver Age masterpiece, in this peerless page from the Stan Lee story, “The Clown and His Masters of Menace.” This page, purchased for $25 in the 1970s, beat Heritage’s previous high price realized for a page of Ditko art by fully $5,000. Realized: $44,813.
Jack Kirby and Paul Reinman X-Men #1 Page 7 Original Art (Marvel, 1963): One of Heritage’s best results for a Kirby panel page. From the hallowed halls of the House of Ideas comes this historic masterpiece of X-Men art - from the story that astonished comic fans everywhere - the first appearance, and origin of what eventually grew to become the world's most exciting superhero team. Realized: $43,819.
Dave Gibbons Watchmen #5 Rorschach Dons His Mask Page 18 Original Art (DC, 1987): “This relentless world: there is only one response to it…” One of the key players in the Watchman saga, Rorschach, discusses his origins with the prison psychiatrist in this classic flashback sequence. This great, self-contained and symmetrically designed (not to mention hair-raising) page by writer Alan Moore and ace artist Dave Gibbons features the ultimate vigilante suiting up for battle. Realized: $16,730.
Heritage Auctions, headed by Steve Ivy, Jim Halperin and Greg Rohan, is the world’s third largest auction house, with annual sales more than $800 million, and 700,000+ online bidder members. For more information about Heritage Auctions, and to join and gain access to a complete record of prices realized, along with full-color, enlargeable photos of each lot, please visit
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