An ultra-rare original Ralph Steadman illustration for Hunter S Thompson’s gonzo fever dream Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is selling at Christie’s.
It's valued at $30,000-50,000, a sum it's almost certain to exceed.
The illustration appeared on the cover of a 1971 edition of Rolling Stone.
Steadman's discomfiting drawings perfectly complemented Thompson's feverish prose
Fear and Loathing was originally serialised in two parts in the magazine. This is from the second part and illustrates a scene from Thompson’s nightmarish account of attending a police conference on Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs while high on LSD.
“The sight of a 344-pound police chief from Waco, Texas, necking openly with his 290-pound wife when the lights were turned off for a Dope Film was just barely tolerable”.
Thompson and Steadman became close friends in 1970, after being assigned to work together on a story on the Kentucky Derby for Scanlan’s Magazine.
“It was like hitting a bullseye first time… Hunter and I got on instantly because we were so different,” Steadman explained in an interview with Wonderland magazine.
“If we’d both been tough guys it wouldn’t have worked. He could be mean.
“But it was a meanness we both understood. Hunter triggered something. Suddenly I knew I could draw with a reckless point of view.”
This is a world first – none of Steadman’s drawings for Fear and Loathing have ever come up for sale.
He sold all of them to Rolling Stone magazine for a pittance in the early 70s, a decision he came to bitterly regret.
As a result, he keeps hold of practically all of his artwork.
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