Gil Elvgren’s ‘Skirting the Issue’ pin-up art sells for $176,500

BEVERLY HILLS – Gil Elvgren’s reign as the greatest and most popular pin-up artist of all time continued on June 27 in Beverly Hills at Heritage Auctions’ $2.77-plus million Illustration Art Signature® Auction, as his masterful “Skirting the Issue (Breezing Up),” 1956, brought $176,500 to lead the day. The painting came out of the estate of Charles Martignette, which continues to produce spectacular results across the board. All prices include buyer’s premium.

Gil Elvgren pin-up art Skirting the issue

Beating its presale estimate several times over and earning the top spot in the sale, Gil Elvgren’s “Skirting the Issue (Breezing Up)” earned $176,500 at Heritage Auction Galleries’ June 27 illustration art auction in Beverly Hills. Photo courtesy Heritage Auction Galleries.

“Elvgren and Martignette continue to be the gold standard of not just pin-up art, but of illustration art in general,” said Ed Jaster, Senior Vice President of Heritage Auctions. “In fact, fully six of the top 10 lots in the auction were Elvgrens, several of which – outside of the top lot – also came from Martignette.”

The five other works by Gil Elvgren in the auction’s top tier consisted of “The Wrong Nail,” 1967 (realized $146,500), “Up in the Air (Whooooooosh!),” 1965 (realized $86,500), “American Beauties (I Hope He Mrs. Me),” 1949 (realized $68,500), “Surprised?” 1952 (realized $43,750) and “This Doesn’t Seem to Keep the Chap from My Lips,” 1948 (realized $40,625).

The June 27 auction also saw the second part of the Jerry Weist collection of sci-fi art perform very well with collectors as Wally Wood’s 1953 “Mars is Heaven!” complete 8-page story, “Weird Science #18” (EC Comics), one of the most revered EC adaptations of Ray Bradbury’s prose, brought $54,688.

Michael Whelan’s 1990 “Descent, The Martian Chronicles” cover realized $37,500 to further bolster both the artist’s reputation and the Weist pedigree.

Alberto Vargas is always a top draw: his 1940s watercolor “Glamour Pin-Up” brought $50,000, while the exquisite talent of Al Buell continues to rise in the estimation of collectors with his bright, dazzling circa 1940s “Brunette Pin-Up” brought $32,500, a record price for the artist.

All told, the auction achieved a stellar 97 percent sell-through rate.

Heritage Auction Galleries is the largest auction house founded in the United States, and the world’s third largest, with annual sales of more than $800 million, and more than 700,000 online bidder members.

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