Collectibles

"Fritz the Cat" becomes the most expensive American comic art

"Fritz the Cat" becomes the mo...
Original cover art by Robert Crumb for his underground comic classic Fritz the Cat sold for $717,000 at Heritage Auctions' Comics & Comic Art Auction in New York
Original cover art by Robert Crumb for his underground comic classic Fritz the Cat sold for $717,000 at Heritage Auctions' Comics & Comic Art Auction in New York
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Robert Crumb's original art for his Keep On Truckin' sequel page from 1972 realized $191,200.
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Robert Crumb's original art for his Keep On Truckin' sequel page from 1972 realized $191,200.
Crumb's original art for a complete, four-page story from The People's Comics (Golden Gate Publishing, 1972) also realized $191,200 at auction.
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Crumb's original art for a complete, four-page story from The People's Comics (Golden Gate Publishing, 1972) also realized $191,200 at auction.
Original cover art by Robert Crumb for his underground comic classic Fritz the Cat sold for $717,000 at Heritage Auctions' Comics & Comic Art Auction in New York
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Original cover art by Robert Crumb for his underground comic classic Fritz the Cat sold for $717,000 at Heritage Auctions' Comics & Comic Art Auction in New York
Robert Crumb, the underground comic artist who shunned commercial art, is fast becoming recognized in the fine art world. His best known works are now recognized globally.
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Robert Crumb, the underground comic artist who shunned commercial art, is fast becoming recognized in the fine art world. His best known works are now recognized globally.
Crumb's Fritz the Cat artwork surpassed several iconic works of the superhero genre to become the most valuable American comic art ever sold at auction, with the previous record being $657,250 and jointly held by Herb Trimpe's final page artwork from The Incredible Hulk #180, which marked the first ever appearance of the now very popular Wolverine character
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Crumb's Fritz the Cat artwork surpassed several iconic works of the superhero genre to become the most valuable American comic art ever sold at auction, with the previous record being $657,250 and jointly held by Herb Trimpe's final page artwork from The Incredible Hulk #180, which marked the first ever appearance of the now very popular Wolverine character
Crumb's Fritz the Cat artwork surpassed several iconic works of the superhero genre to become the most valuable American comic art ever sold at auction, with the previous record being $657,250 and jointly held by  Todd McFarlane's original art of the front cover of The Amazing Spider-Man #328
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Crumb's Fritz the Cat artwork surpassed several iconic works of the superhero genre to become the most valuable American comic art ever sold at auction, with the previous record being $657,250 and jointly held by  Todd McFarlane's original art of the front cover of The Amazing Spider-Man #328
Frank Miller has twice held the record for the most valuable American comic art at auction, both from his 1980s Batman Dark Knight series. His most recent record was the 1986 cover art from Batman: The Dark Knight Returns #2  which fetched $478,000 
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Frank Miller has twice held the record for the most valuable American comic art at auction, both from his 1980s Batman Dark Knight series. His most recent record was the 1986 cover art from Batman: The Dark Knight Returns #2  which fetched $478,000 
Frank Miller has twice held the record for the most valuable American comic art at auction, both from his 1980s Batman Dark Knight series. His previous record was page 10 from the 1986 comic Batman: The Dark Knight #3  which fetched $448,125
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Frank Miller has twice held the record for the most valuable American comic art at auction, both from his 1980s Batman Dark Knight series. His previous record was page 10 from the 1986 comic Batman: The Dark Knight #3  which fetched $448,125

We have previously reported on the astonishing rise in value of comics and comic art in the last few years, with five recent sales of original TinTin comic art fetching over US$1 million each.

Heritage Auctions' Comics & Comic Art Auction in New York last week continued that trend when original cover art by Robert Crumb for his underground comic classic Fritz the Cat sold for $717,000, surpassing Batman, Spiderman, The Incredible Hulk, Superman et al., to become the most valuable piece of American comic art yet sold.

Original cover art by Robert Crumb for his underground comic classic Fritz the Cat sold for $717,000 at Heritage Auctions' Comics & Comic Art Auction in New York
Original cover art by Robert Crumb for his underground comic classic Fritz the Cat sold for $717,000 at Heritage Auctions' Comics & Comic Art Auction in New York

Crumb's best known work was the cover of the Big Brother and the Holding Company album, Cheap Thrills, famously commissioned by the band's lead singer Janis Joplin. The album regularly appears on all-time-great lists of album covers, and was voted by Rolling Stone as #9 on the Greatest Album Covers of All Time. Crumb refused to accept payment for the cover, saying, "I don't want Columbia's filthy lucre."

Now, Crumb's famous underground comic works are rapidly achieving the status he has long shunned.

"Artworks from Underground Comix – especially from masters such as Robert Crumb – are becoming recognized in the fine art world as cultural cornerstones," says Barry Sandoval, Director of Comic Operations at Heritage Auctions. "Three of the top four lots in the auction were by Crumb."

Robert Crumb's original art for his Keep On Truckin' sequel page from 1972 realized $191,200.
Robert Crumb's original art for his Keep On Truckin' sequel page from 1972 realized $191,200.

Crumb's original art for his Keep On Truckin' sequel page from 1972 realized $191,200.

Crumb's original art for a complete, four-page story from The People's Comics (Golden Gate Publishing, 1972) also realized $191,200 at auction.
Crumb's original art for a complete, four-page story from The People's Comics (Golden Gate Publishing, 1972) also realized $191,200 at auction.

Crumb's original art for a complete, four-page story from The People's Comics (Golden Gate Publishing, 1972) also realized $191,200.

Crumb's Fritz the Cat artwork surpassed several iconic works of the superhero genre to become the most valuable American comic art ever sold at auction, with the previous record being $657,250 and jointly held by  Todd McFarlane's original art of the front cover of The Amazing Spider-Man #328
Crumb's Fritz the Cat artwork surpassed several iconic works of the superhero genre to become the most valuable American comic art ever sold at auction, with the previous record being $657,250 and jointly held by  Todd McFarlane's original art of the front cover of The Amazing Spider-Man #328

In selling for $717,000, Crumb's Fritz the Cat artwork surpassed several iconic works of the superhero genre, with the previous record being $657,250 and held jointly by Herb Trimpe's final page artwork from The Incredible Hulk #180 (above), which marked the first ever appearance of Wolverine, and Todd McFarlane's original art of the front cover of The Amazing Spider-Man #328 (below).

Crumb's Fritz the Cat artwork surpassed several iconic works of the superhero genre to become the most valuable American comic art ever sold at auction, with the previous record being $657,250 and jointly held by Herb Trimpe's final page artwork from The Incredible Hulk #180, which marked the first ever appearance of the now very popular Wolverine character
Crumb's Fritz the Cat artwork surpassed several iconic works of the superhero genre to become the most valuable American comic art ever sold at auction, with the previous record being $657,250 and jointly held by Herb Trimpe's final page artwork from The Incredible Hulk #180, which marked the first ever appearance of the now very popular Wolverine character

Frank Miller has twice held the record for the most valuable American comic art at auction, both from his 1980s Batman Dark Knight series. His most recent record was the 1986 cover art from Batman: The Dark Knight Returns #2  which fetched $478,000 
Frank Miller has twice held the record for the most valuable American comic art at auction, both from his 1980s Batman Dark Knight series. His most recent record was the 1986 cover art from Batman: The Dark Knight Returns #2  which fetched $478,000 

Frank Miller held the two previous records for the most valuable American comic art at auction, both from his 1980s Batman series with the 1986 cover art from Batman: The Dark Knight Returns #2 (above) fetching $478,000 and page 10 from the 1986 comic Batman: The Dark Knight #3 fetching $448,125 (below).

Frank Miller has twice held the record for the most valuable American comic art at auction, both from his 1980s Batman Dark Knight series. His previous record was page 10 from the 1986 comic Batman: The Dark Knight #3  which fetched $448,125
Frank Miller has twice held the record for the most valuable American comic art at auction, both from his 1980s Batman Dark Knight series. His previous record was page 10 from the 1986 comic Batman: The Dark Knight #3  which fetched $448,125

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