Auctions | January 30, 2019

Vintage Comics Auctions Hit Record $58.5 Million in Annual Sales at Heritage Auctions

Dallas, Texas - Sales of vintage comic books and comic art soared to a world record $58,544,323 in 2018 at Heritage Auctions. The auctioneers’ Comics & Comic Art Department recorded the highest sales totals in the 17-year history of the department, representing the non-stop trend of high demand for original comic book artwork, rare comic books and animation art.

Numerous records fell in 2018, further strengthening Heritage Auction’s grip on the title of the top comics and comic art auctioneer in the world. Last year’s sales represent a 32 percent increase over the department’s previous record, which was set in 2017. Sell-through rates exceeded 99% by value and by number of lots.

“Our results in 2018 exceeded our loftiest expectations,” Heritage Auctions Co-Founder Jim Halperin said. “Part of the gratification when reflecting on 2018 is the variety of our success: we were able to realize exceptional prices on individual comic books and original art, but were fortunate that the results were not top-heavy. We also established new records for the most valuable Comics auction and most valuable Animation Art auction ever held, and set a new record with our weekly auctions three times during the year.”

Among the records that fell in 2018:

·         Frank Frazetta's Original Art titled Death Dealer 6, 1990, published first as the cover for Verotik’s 1996 Death Dealer #2 comic book, brought $1,792,500 at Heritage’s Comics & Comic Art Auction May 10-12 in Chicago. That price nearly tripled the most ever paid at auction for a piece of U.S.-published comic book art.

·         Meanwhile, that auction’s total of $12,201,974 in realized sales also set a new world record for any individual comics auction.

·         Original art by John Romita, Sr., and Frank Giacoia for the Amazing Spider-Man #100 cover drew bids from three dozen collectors before bringing $478,000, eclipsing pre-auction estimates by nearly 20 percent and establishing a new world record for the most expensive Marvel Comics Silver or Bronze Age cover ever sold at a public auction. 

·         A new record for artwork by famed Disney artist Mary Blair was established when her Cinderella Magic Coach Concept Painting (Walt Disney, 1950) drew $60,000 in Heritage’s Animation Art auction June 16-17 in Dallas.

·         A little over a month later, competitive bidding drove the final price for original art and a copy of Kaja Foglio's Magic: The Gathering: Arabian Nights "Shahrazad" Card (Wizards of the West Coast, 1993) to $72,000 in the July 22 Sunday Internet Comics, Animation & Art Auction, a record for any Heritage Weekly Comics auction lot.

Animation Art auctions were extremely strong in 2018. Heritage’s Dec. 8-9 Animation Art auction brought in $1,956,926, making it the most successful Animation Art auction in the history of the company. The sale showed the growing global love of animation art, and was highlighted by numerous record sales, including Disney, Hanna Barbera and Warner Brothers.

Savvy collectors realized there was ample value to be had in Heritage’s weekly Sunday Internet Comics, Animation & Art auctions. The weekly evening sales, now frequently including lots that can produce five-figure prices, established a new record for total sales three different times during the year, including in the firm’s Aug. 5 sale that yielded a record $466,512.20. The 936-lot auction’s top lot was Amazing Fantasy #15 (Marvel, 1962) CGC VG- 3.5 Cream to off-white pages, which brought $20,400.

“The days of Heritage Auctions’ weekly auctions offering lower-value lots exclusively are over,” Halperin said. “We average about 800 lots per week, and it no longer is a rarity for some lots to crack the five-figure plateau. Our collectors know the value that exists in many of the offered materials, some of which are fresh-to-the-market personal collections. So while there always are outstanding deals to be had for collectors of all levels, our weekly auctions now include many exceptional items, which routinely set new price records.”