The 1969 fantasy painting Egyptian Queen, one of the most legendary artworks by famed artist Frank Frazetta, sold for a world record $5.4 million (£4.2m) yesterday, Thursday, 16th May, at a public auction of vintage comic books and comic art held by Heritage Auctions in Chicago, Illinois.
The painting bests the world record as the most expensive piece of original comic book art ever sold at public auction. The previous record was the $1.79 million paid for Frazetta’s Death Dealer 6, 1990, which was set by Heritage in May 2018
Heritage say the masterpiece is credited more than any other with revolutionising fantasy illustration in American art.
The winning bidder does not wish to be identified at this time.
The “Egyptian Queen” first appeared in print as the cover for Eerie magazine #23 in mid-1969, Frank Frazetta then republished it, with slight revisions, as a poster and as multiple prints and posters over subsequent decades.
The face of the woman is different in the poster. In an interview in The Comics Journal #174 (February 1995), available to subscribers on the magazine’s website, Frazetta said, “I’ll never forget, the ‘Egyptian Queen.’ I got that whole painting done, in about a day and a half, and I looked at it. It was done as far as I was concerned. Then I looked at her face, and I didn’t like it […] so I finally just settled for any face, and brought it in, and they printed it that way, and then I forgot about it.
“So, a couple of months later I get it back; now I was fresh again. And I just looked at it and ‘Pow!’ I whacked in the face you see in all the prints.”
The painting has been in the possession of Frazetta’s family ever since it was created 50 years ago, and Thursday was the first time it was made available for private ownership in Heritage Auctions’ Comics & Comic Art Auction. In addition to a world record, the painting also set a house record as the most expensive item ever sold by Heritage Auctions, surpassing a luxury Dallas estate, which closed for $4.95 million in 2016.
“This result elevates Frank Frazetta’s art into the stratosphere of visual narrative art on a par with the likes of Norman Rockwell, Maxfield Parrish and other luminaries,” Heritage Auctions Vice President Todd Hignite said.
Heritage Auctions is the largest fine art and collectibles auction house founded in the United States, and the world’s largest collectibles auctioneer. Heritage maintains offices in New York, Dallas, Beverly Hills, San Francisco, Chicago, Palm Beach, London, Paris, Geneva, Amsterdam and Hong Kong.
The Internet’s most popular auction-house website, HA.com, has over one million registered bidder-members and searchable free archives of four million past auction records with prices realized, descriptions and enlargeable photos.