A unique 1936 painting by famed Belgian cartoonist Hergé has sold for €3.2 million at an auction at the Artcurial in Paris, setting a record for the most expensive comic book art in the world, artnet has reported.
Originally purposed to serve as the cover image for The Blue Lotus, the fifth volume about boy reporter Tintin, the artwork, a gouache painting, was ultimately too costly for publisher Casterman to reproduce at the time with the four-color printing technique.
The Blue Lotus recounts the travels of Tintin in China during the Japanese invasion of 1931, which was highly unusual at the time. The work is one of only five direct-color drawings by Hergé. The Tintin series has proven to be popular among collectors in recent years, with a number of them selling above $1 million, including the €2.5 million ($2.9 million) cover of Tintin and the Shooting Star in 2015, and the $1.1 million cover for Tintin in the Land of the Soviets in May of 2019.
In a statement, Eric Leroy, the auction house’s comic expert said “Owing to its uniqueness, this masterpiece of comic art deserves its world record and confirms that the comic-strip market is in excellent health.”