Frank Frazetta's The Lion Queen (1960) is expected to sell for $40,000-60,000.
The piece will highlight the sale of the Doc Dave Winiewicz collection of Frazetta artwork at Profiles in History in LA on December 11.
Frazetta was a fantasy and science fiction artist who created countless illustrations for pulp paperbacks, albums and comic books.
The present lot is one of his most recognisable works and has had a chequered history in the years leading up to the auction.
Winiewicz explains: "Many years ago a collector named Jack Gilbert wandered into Illustration House Gallery in NYC to see what was coming up for sale in the next auction.
"He called me and said there was a Frazetta piece in the next auction. He said it was a crappy sketch of an old lady and a panther.
"I thought Jack was having a little fun with me. I asked him again to describe it. Well, it wasn't an old lady. It was the famous picture of the queen and the lion that was famously pictured on the cover of the Frazetta #1 fanzine in 1969."
Apparently Winiewicz then spoke to Frazetta, asking him if he knew the work was up for sale. Frazetta did not, and stated he would never sell such an important drawing.
It soon became clear that the work had in fact been stolen by one of Frazetta's friends and sold to another collector, Roger Reed.
The FBI got involved but Frazetta declined to hire a lawyer to get the work back - although he did call up his former friend and yell at him down the phone.
Following Frank's death a couple of years later, Winiewicz bought the piece from Reed.
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