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Rejected Tintin cover art sells for record €3.2 million at auction

The painting by Herge broke a record for the world’s most expensive comic book art, despite having a visible crease through the work

The original cover of 'The Blue Lotus' sold for €3.2 million . Reuters
The original cover of 'The Blue Lotus' sold for €3.2 million . Reuters

An original painting by Tintin creator Herge sold for a record €3.2 million ($3.9 million) at an online auction on Thursday, January 14, breaking a record for the world’s most expensive comic book art.

The item, intended as a front cover for The Blue Lotus volume from 1936, easily beat the previous record for the sale of comic book art of $3.2 million, which was reached in 2014 for a double-page drawing by Herge.

The gouache, ink and watercolour creation sold last week measures 34 by 34 centimetres and features Tintin and his dog Snowy emerging from a porcelain jar in front of a menacing depiction of a Chinese dragon.

It was judged to be too expensive to reproduce by Herge's publisher, which ultimately used a simplified version of the same scene for The Blue Lotus cover.

The selling price – higher than auction house Artcurial's estimate of $2.66-$3.38 million – underscores the tremendous appetite for original memorabilia of Tintin, whose adventures have entertained people of all ages since the 1930s.

In 2016, an original drawing from the Explorers on the Moon book sold for $1.87 million, a record at the time for a single comic book page.

Herge, the pen name of Belgian cartoonist George Remi, had sold some 230 million Tintin albums by the time of his death in 1983.

The painting sold for its astronomical price despite having clearly visible crease marks through it.

It was offered for sale by the heirs to Tintin publisher Louis Casterman who claim it was given by Herge to Casterman's son, who kept it folded up in a drawer.

Painting for the original cover of "The Blue Lotus" (Lotus Bleu) Tintin comic book (1936), is displayed before being auctioned by Artcurial in Paris, France January 13, 2021. REUTERS/Noemie Olive NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES
The painting comes with a noticeable crease. Reuters

Other experts have cast doubt on this, saying the drawing is not dedicated unlike other gifts from Herge and might have been folded by the artist himself when he sent it by post to his publishers.

Nick Rodwell, the British husband of Herge's second wife Fanny Vlamynck, who holds the rights to the Tintin work, has said the painting rightfully belongs in the Herge museum in Belgium.

Updated: January 17, 2021 11:35 AM

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