How do you make $1m from $10? Win the Lichtenstein lottery

Concluding a tale that could inspire anyone to collect art no matter the budget, Christie's has announced the auction of an exquisite drawing by the American Pop Art master Roy Lichtenstein is to be offered at the Post-War and Contemporary Evening Sale at Christie's New York on May 11, 2011.

The drawing was acquired for a mere $10 in 1965, is expected to realise more than one million dollars at Christie's in May.

Drawing for Kiss V (estimate: $800,000-$1,200,000), rendered in graphite and wax crayon on paper, is the original drawing for Roy Lichtenstein's masterpiece painting Kiss V of 1964 and belongs to the artist's most celebrated series of iconic portraits of dream-girls that he created between 1961 and 1965.

Acquired by the present owner at one of the legendary Happenings organised by the Artists' Key Club, a group formed by a leading group of emerging pop artists in the early 1960s, the invitation for the event instructed participants to convene at the Hotel Chelsea in New York and register in a lottery in return for a key to a locker at Penn Station, famously undergoing renovation in 1965.

 Inside each of these lockers was a work that had been donated by artists, including Roy Lichtenstein, Arman, Christo, Niki de Saint-Phalle and Andy Warhol.

The present owner bought their lottery ticket for $10 and that evening in March of 1965 found this masterpiece in their locker.

Drawing for Kiss V has remained in the same New York private collection for over forty-five years and is a unique piece of history that captures the remarkable aesthetic and cultural zeitgeist of the New York art world at a time of revolutionary change.

Jonathan Laib, Post-War and Contemporary Art Specialist and Head of Morning Sale comments: "Drawing for Kiss V is a master work created by Roy Lichtenstein in 1964 while at the height of his creative powers.

Lichtenstein Kiss V drawing
'You look like a million dollars, baby' - Lichtenstein's Kiss V drawing

"Lichtenstein has succeeded in producing in this very small work a statement that traps the viewer in a voyeuristic gaze. Through the use of a shallow pictorial space Lichtenstein intensifies the dramatic events within; As a viewer we are violating an intimate and perhaps even violent moment between two lovers in an ambiguous situation that registers somewhere between agony and ecstasy.

"In this incredible drawing Lichtenstein accomplishes much of what defines his greatest works; the lingering effects of this drawing are lasting, it finds its way into the crevices of the mind and lingers freezing time to create experience. Though small in scale this drawing packs a punch that is much larger than its physical limitations."

Christie's has excellent form for works of art by Roy Lichtenstein. In November 2010 at Christie's New York, the artist's masterpiece Oh… Alright… sold for $42.6m setting the world record price for the artist at auction.

The world record price for a work on paper by the artist was established at Christie's London in June 2010 when Collage for nude with red shirt sold for £2,729,250.


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