AbeBooks' Most Expensive Sales of April, May & June 2017
The sale of Jean-Michel Basquiat's 1982 abstract painting of a skull for $110.5 million (USD) in May shocked the art world. Only ten other artworks have sold for more than $100 million. The record-breaking Basquiat auction sale immediately sparked the sale of a remarkable poster on AbeBooks featuring Basquiat and pop artist Andy Warhol for more than £15,000.
In the Fall of 1985, the two artists staged a joint exhibition at the Tony Shafrazi Gallery in New York and a colour poster was created to promote the event. Both Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat donned boxing gloves and posed for boxing bout-style photographs.
Warhol doesn't look like he could punch his way out a damp paper bag but Basquiat - who lived on the streets at the start of this art career - looks like he could handle himself as a light middleweight. It's a famous poster, capturing a poignant moment in the 1980s art scene with a rising star and the established icon, but this particular one was signed by both artists, which turned it from being simply special into exceptional. Sadly, Basquiat died of a heroin overdose at the age of 27 in 1988. Twenty nine years after Basquiat's death, his art is now worth millions of dollars and his signature is worth thousands. Warhol died in 1987, and his art and books (especially the cat-related ones) remain highly desirable.
Basquiat started in graffiti art as hip-hop exploded in the late 1970s. At the time, he was regarded as the 'enfant terrible' of the New York art scene for his artistic interpretations of wealth, class and race in 1980s. The show displayed collaborative paintings that Warhol and Basquiat worked on from 1984 to 1985.
AbeBooks' Top 10 Sales of April, May & June 2017
1. Warhol vs Basquiat Exhibition Poster - £15,900 An original boxing-style promotional poster for the 1985 collaborative exhibition in New York, signed by both artists. Unsigned copies are priced up to £3,850.
2. Chocky by John Wyndham - £9,000 A science fiction story about an alien, first published as a novella in 1963 in Amazing Stories. This copy was a scarce 1968 signed first edition of the book format published by Michael Joseph, and in near fine condition. The BBC adapted Wyndham's story for radio in 1967. Chocky was Wyndham's last published story during his lifetime - he died in March 1969. British author Wyndham is best known for his novels, The Day of the Triffids and The Chrysalids.
3. Seven volumes of poetry by Hans Sachs - £8,450 Sachs (1494-1576) was a German Meistersinger (or mastersinger), poet, playwright, and shoemaker. He wrote more than 6,000 pieces of literature from plays to fables and poems while paying the bills as a shoemaker. He is best known for his poetry designed to be spoken aloud.
4. La Fontaine's Fables - £8,150 The Fables of Jean de La Fontaine were issued in several volumes from 1668 to 1694. They are considered to be classics in French literature. These four volumes were published from 1755 to 1759 and represent the second edition with a fine engraved frontispiece and 275 plates.
5. An original drawing by Franz von Bayros - £7,830 Franz von Bayros (1866-1924) was an Austrian artist, best known for his controversial erotic drawings. Part of the Decadent Movement sweeping through Europe at this time, von Bayros' book Tales at the Dressing Table was explicit enough to have him arrested. This particular drawing is pretty tame compared to some of the artist's other work.
6. Codice del Sacro Militare Ordine Gerosolimitano - £7,325 This is a compendium of the rules that governed the Gerosolimitano - the Order of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem founded around 1100 - whose goal was to free the tomb of Christ from Islamic control during the Crusades. A Maltese first edition from 1777.
7. Studio d'architettura civile sopra gli ornamenti di porte, e finestre colle misure, piante, modini, e profili, tratte da alcune fabbriche insigni di Firenze erette col disegno de piu celebri architetti by Ferdinando Ruggieri - £6,500 Florentine architect Ruggieri (circa 1691-1741) published three volumes in 1722, 1724 and 1728 displaying his drawings of buildings in Florence. The full length title translates from Italian as 'a study of architecture above the ornaments of doors, and windows with measures, plants, fashion, and profiles, drawn from some of Florence's outstanding buildings designed by the more famous architects'. This copy is three volumes bound in one, and comes from the library of English book collector and amateur artist Heneage Finch, 4th Earl of Aylesford (1751-1812). Florence has enchanted the English for centuries. An important book as it details buildings by architects as notable as Michelangelo.
8. Le monde de l'art n'est pas le monde du pardon - £5,950 The World of Art is Not the World of Forgiveness is an art book published in 1974 containing illustrations by Georges Braque, Henri Matisse, Victor Brauner, Joan Miró, Pablo Picasso, Wifredo Lam, Zao Wou Ki, Vieira da Silva, Arpad Szenes, Jean-Philippe Charbonnier and Alberto Giacometti among others. Poet René Char(1907-1988), a former member of the French Resistance, provided the text. There were 75 numbered copies and 25 signed by Char. This copy contains a suite of original prints by Miró, Lam, Charbonnier, Vieira da Silva, Arpad Szenes and Zao Wo-Ki, all signed and numbered by the artists. A handful of trade editions are available.
9.= Letters from Aldous Huxley to Goddard Lieberson - £5,750 An exchange of letters between Huxley and Lieberson, president of Columbia Records from 1956 to 1971. Thirteen of the letters are either typed or autograph letters, signed, from Huxley, and the last two are autograph letters from Huxley's second wife, Laura. Sixteen carbon copies of Lieberson's typed letters to Huxley are also included. The letters span a significant portion of the end of Huxley's life, from 1952 to 1963. Lieberson initially wrote to Huxley asking if he would like to be part of a series of recordings of authors reading their work, which already included Truman Capote. Huxley invited Lieberson to his house, in order to listen to some previous recordings, and the two became friends.
9.= Brave New World by Aldous Huxley - £5,750 A first edition, first printing of Huxley's most famous book in its dustjacket, published in 1932. Huxley's New World was set in London in 2540 and predicts a variety of technologies concerning reproduction, learning, psychology, and conditioning. The author does not offer a positive view of the future.