Introducing Rakewell, Apollo’s wandering eye on the art world. Look out for regular posts taking a rakish perspective on art and museum stories.
Tintin or Asterix? The question divides school playgrounds the world over, but rarely has it troubled the art market. This month, however, the plucky Gaul and the intrepid boy reporter are going head to head at auction in a way they never managed on the printed page.
Last week, the Drouot auction house in Paris sold an original illustration for an early Asterix comic for more than seven times its expected price. The drawing that went on to adorn the cover of Asterix and the Banquet was expected to go for between €180,000 and €200,000), but ended up fetching a staggering €1.4m. At the same sale, another cover illustration – this time for Asterix and the Chieftain’s Shield – netted a tidy €1.2m.
But Asterix’s new market record is not going unchallenged. Over the border in Liège, rare book specialist Librairie Lhomme has unearthed an ‘exceptional piece’ of Tintin memorabilia – nothing less than Hergé’s last major work depicting the be-quiffed hero. This two-metre-long drawing from 1983, later transformed into a mural on the Brussels Metro, was presented to the bookshop in June by the daughter of a subway worker, to whom it had been given by Bob de Moor, Hergé’s right hand man.
The sketch is expected to fetch between €100,000 and €150,000 when it comes up for sale on Saturday (21 October). But given the precedent cited above, it may well fetch more. As Captain Haddock might have put it: Blistering Barnacles!