Heritage Auctions celebrates world's first $28+ million comics auction

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Heritage Auctions celebrates world's first $28+ million comics auction
Don Heck Tales of Suspense #39 Iron Man Origin Story Page 9 Original Art (Marvel, 1963).

DALLAS, TX.- The previous record for any comic book and comic art auction was eclipsed by Heritage Auctions’ April 4-7 completely sold-out blockbuster event, which realized $28,204,583 after the sun set Sunday evening. That shatters the previous record of $26.5 million set at Heritage in September 2021.

Long before closing, the April 4-7 Comics & Comic Art Signature ® Auction had already been a headline-maker: It opened Thursday with the $6 million sale of one of the world’s finest copies of Action Comics No. 1, now the world’s most valuable comic book. It saw the sale of Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel’s historic 1934 letter to comic strip artist Russell Keaton describing The Man of Steel who could have been for $264,000. Several key titles in high grades soared to unprecedented heights, including a CGC NM+ 9.6 copy of The Avengers that realized $432,000 and a Justice League of America No. 1 in the same grade that sold for $348,000.

Friday saw even more highwater marks hit for fabled offerings, among them a page that would have been the singular centerpiece of any other auction: Don Heck’s original artwork from Tales of Suspense No. 39 that features Tony Stark donning the Iron Man armor for the first time. This monumental Marvel moment realized $552,000 — a new Heck (of a) world record — and is now the most valuable page from Tales of Suspense No. 39, a copy of which graded CGC Near Mint/Mint 9.8 realized $840,000 during this auction. That copy is just one of this auction’s nine new additions to CGC’s list of the most expensive comic books ever reported sold.

Frank Miller rose to prominence in the early 1980s after resurrecting Daredevil as a meaningful character and a profitable title. From that brief, brilliant 30-ish-issue run came the cover to issue No. 190 and the “Resurrection,” in which Miller dove headlong into the mystical — deemed by Comic Book Resources as the fourth-best tale from Miller’s tenure. That explains why Miller and Klaus Janson’s Elektra-fying cover of Daredevil No. 190 realized $252,000 to become the most valuable Miller-drawn Daredevil original sold at auction.

Daredevil’s debut was another record-setting star in this event — and another newcomer to CGC’s most-expensive list thanks to this auction. The Man Without Fear’s first appearance in Daredevil No. 1 realized $360,000 with a CGC Near Mint/Mint 9.8 copy. Matt Murdock is indeed born again.

The early sessions were just a precursor to what lay ahead, as countless bidding wars between the auction’s more than 6,600 bidders worldwide set numerous records over the weekend, including one for a comic book and comic art auction. The previous record of $26,555,721 fell about halfway through Sunday’s finale, thanks to Golden-Silver-and-Bronze Age great Irv Novick’s cover of Capt. Storm No. 9, and when the final hammer fell, the auction had hit $28,204,583.

“The fact that we had some of the finest known copies of some of the most sought-after comic books meant we were confident this would be one of the most successful auctions we had ever had,” says Heritage Auctions Vice President Barry Sandoval. “But once Friday’s comic art session started and we saw that collectors’ appetites were just as ravenous, we realized we had a serious chance at a new record. I’m especially happy for our more than 250 consignors, 29 of whom will be getting checks for more than $100,000.”

In this auction alone, eight comics stretched toward — or well beyond! — the half-million mark, including one of the world’s highest-graded copies of one of comicdom’s most influential books, a Captain America No. 1 graded CGC Near Mint- 9.2 that realized $750,000. And Action Comics No. 1 wasn’t done after its $6 million day: A professionally restored copy of Superman’s 1938 debut with the CGC grade of Apparent 8.0 realized $576,000 to set an all-time high for any restored comic book.

There was also a new sensation for this CGC Near Mint+ 9.6 Sensation Comics No. 1, which features Wonder Woman’s second appearance. It’s not only the highest-graded copy in the world, but it’s also now the most valuable after realizing $420,000.

The 275 pieces offered by legendary comix publisher Denis Kitchen also served as a centerpiece of this event. One of the auction’s most sought-after pieces came from that vaunted collection: Robert Crumb’s original cover art for 1976’s SNARF No. 3, which realized $240,000.

Kitchen’s collection also resulted in new auction records for scores of Crumb’s Underground contemporaries, as well as a comics legend, Will Eisner, whose The Spirit Kitchen resurrected at just the time when Eisner was starting to be taken for granted. Collectors tussled over an original work featuring P’Gell, which appeared on the cover of the Sunday comics supplement on May 25, 1947. A bidding war drove its final price to $156,000.

Bidding war might as well be the auction’s motto; that’s to be expected during an all-time record-setter featuring no shortage of must-owns.

Everyone has their favorite The Far Side — OK, favorites. The one in which Gary Larson visits the Boneless Chicken Ranch was a hit among collectors over the weekend, as it became the most valuable original Far Side ever sold at auction, realizing $51,600.

Frank Frazetta sparks bidding wars whenever Heritage offers one of his original paintings; his cover of 1996’s Vampirella: 25th Anniversary Special was no exception. After a tense tussle, the stunning work realized $276,000 to become the most valuable Vampirella work in the world.

Silver Surfer and Fantastic Four are gearing up to crash the big screen, but collectors fought over the real thing: Rich Buckler and Joe Sinnott’s cover of Fantastic Four No. 155, which realized $192,000. Collectors also fought over Ron Frenz’s original art from The Amazing Spider Man No. 252, in which Peter Parker donned the famous Black Costume for the first time. It realized $174,000.

Collectors also lined up to take a bite out of Mike Mignola and John Nyberg’s original wraparound art for the Bram Stoker’s Dracula trade paperback published in 1993. It opened live bidding at $14,000 — but it was neck and neck with the final price coming in at $144,000.

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