If fantasy isn’t your bag, chances are you might not have heard of Frank Frazetta.
But I’ll bet you’ll recognise his distinctive artwork.
Demand for originals has risen dramatically in the past few years, culminating in a $1.7m record for a painting titled Death Dealer 6 (three times the $600,000 estimate).
So what’s driving it?
Let’s find out.
Frazetta is an icon in the world of fantasy.
A child prodigy, he began working as a comic book artist in 1944 at the age of 16. By the 1960s he was in demand as a cover artist, producing designs for books by Edgar Rice Burroughs and other fantasy and sci-fi authors.
Death Dealer 6 sold for a record $1.7m at Heritage Auctions earlier this year
What sets him apart from his compatriots is the quality of his technique. His muscle bound warrior men and women are drawn with an incredible eye for anatomy.
He’s often compared with old masters like Rembrandt and Caravaggio.
Most of his collectors grew up with his work and are now in the position where they can afford to acquire it. We’re witnessing the same phenomenon with the work of Tintin creator, Herge.
However, with Frazetta there’s another element to consider...
As Frazetta made his living from the licensing of his work, he never had to sell his canvases.
And he rarely did.
At the Earth's Core was another major result for Frazetta's work, achieving $1m in 2016
The few that did come to auction were lesser examples and typically sold in the mid-six figure range.
The best part of his catalogue has been off limits for years. Collectors have coveted these works, but it was only following Frazetta’s death in 2010 that they had any hope of owning one.
The months after Frazetta died brought a tumultuous family feud. His will had been vague and it was unclear how his estate would be divided between his four children.
When the dust cleared, the family sold one painting (Conan the Destroyer) to pay their combined legal fees. It reached $1.5m.
Today the collection is split equally between the four. Some have started selling off their inheritance, leading to these breathtaking results. The others appear to be holding off for now.
A lifetime’s worth of paintings and a passionate collector base...
I think we can expect to see prices rising for Frazetta’s work well into the future.
All the best,
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