Heritage Auctions' highly anticipated sale of Wolverine's first appearance didn't disappoint this weekend, as it set a new world record for a page of American comic book art.
The piece, which sees one of Marvel's most successful characters in his very first outing, had already set the record for a panel page by the time the live auction opened on May 16 in Dallas, but went on to surprise those in the room with a final price of $657,250 .
The price ties with Todd McFarlane's Spider-Man #328 cover art, which realised an identical sum at Heritage Auctions in July 2012.
"We knew when this artwork surfaced that it was, without doubt, one of the most significant pieces of original comic art ever drawn," said Todd Hignite, vice president of Heritage Auctions.
"It has now brought a final price realized commensurate with that status."
Created by Herb Trimpe and Jack Abel, the artwork first appeared on the final page of The Incredible Hulk #180 in 1974. Described as "arguably the most important debut of a comic book character in the last 40 years", Wolverine has become one of Marvel's most popular characters, and is now the subject of a multi-million dollar franchise thanks to his movie success.
The artwork was given to the consignor in 1983, when he visited the studio as a teenager.
"The owner of this piece saw, as the years wore one, that Wolverine had become one of the most popular heroes in the world," said Hignite. "He began to suspect ��� and rightly so ��� that he had something not only of great monetary value, but also of broad pop culture significance."
A portion of the proceeds from the sale will be donated to the Hero Initiative, a non-profit corporation that helps comic book artists in financial need.
2014 celebrates the 40th anniversary of Wolverine's first appearance in the landmark "And the Wind Howls Wendigo" story - some of the key issues for Bronze Age Marvel collectors. With a new X-Men film due to be released, the auction demonstrates the importance of selling at the right time.
Comic books and illustration art is a booming market, as powerful film franchises spur popularity in the collecting world. Paul Fraser Collectibles has a superb range of comic and illustration art for sale.