Vintage Playboy art sells for $179k

Back in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, Playboy Magazine was as much about living a fabulous lifestyle as it was an excuse to see beautiful women take their clothes off. Aimed at young, hip and aspiring males, the likes of John Lennon and Bob Dylan appeared within its pages.

What many people don't realise is, in his early years, the magazine's legendary proprietor, Hugh Hefner, was an aspiring artist. Consequently, his own magazine became a haven and showcase for some of the more risqué and forward-thinking artists of the era.

As David Tosh, Comics Cataloguer and Heritage Auction Galleries, told us in his exclusive interview, last week: "Since Hef was, from the start, a big fan of cartoon art, he made sure that some of the best cartoonists and pin-up artists in the world were published in his magazine.

"Naturally, all those hip, stylish guys reading Playboy were digging the fantastic cartoons, too. The cartoons were great, no doubt - not to mention colourful and (for the most part) risqué."

Vargas Girl, illustrated for Playboy in 1963, sold for $179,250

Decades later, those readers finally had a chance to own those original artworks at an auction of original Playboy cartoons held at Heritage Auction Galleries, on February 16.

Star lots at Heritage's sale included a number of illustrated pin-ups by Alberto Vargas, the magazine's most renowned artist.

The highest selling Vargas lot was a piece entitled Vargas Girl, illustrated for Playboy and dated October 1963. Bearing the artist's signature and the inscription "Trick or Treat, Mr Malcolm?" the 20 x 29 watercolour on board realised a stunning final price of $179,250.

The sale appeared as part of Heritage's February 25-27 Signature® Comics and Comic Art Auction.

Alongside the classic Playboy art, Heritage's auction also saw the historic sale the new 'holy grail' of comic books. Detective Comics #27 - featuring the first-ever appearance of Batman - realised a World Record final hammer price of $1,075,500.


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