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Playboy photos really are art

twinnOn 8 December, part of the Playboy Magazine art collection will go up for sale through Christie’s Auction House.  It is rumoured that Playboy is selling over 125 works of art in response to financial difficulties.  The Magazine is thought to have lost about $27 million in the third-quarter.

Nonetheless, the art works on sale make up a very small percentage of Playboy’s entire art collection of more than 5000 pieces.

For this auction, which is being called, The Year of the Rabbit, there will be pieces available by Salvadore Dali, Tom Wesselmann, Alberto Vargas, and photos of supermodels like Cindy Crawford and Elle MacPherson by Herb Ritts.

The painting, Mouth #8, by Tom Wesselmann is the jewel of the collection and projected to sell at around $2 million to $3 million.  The work was commissioned back in 1966 for inclusion in a 1967 pictorial depicting playmates as fine art.  Other noteworthy artists of the time contributed pieces as well. Falling in a time before the advent of digital photo retouch software, some of the original Playboy pieces have come to be collectors items. Despite the Playboy reputation, auctions like this demonstrate its history in bringing noteworthy artists together. If your budget falls short of $2 million to $3 million, there are less expensive treasures to be had, like a mounted transparency featuring Marilyn Monroe from the cover of Playboy’s first edition that is expected to fetch $1000 to $2000.  Cartoons by E. Simmons Campbell, who was the first syndicated African American cartoonist, are expected to bring $400 to $600 each.

For collectors looking to purchase things connected to the business operations at Playboy, layout boards, complete with jotted instructions directing how to position the models and scores for attractiveness, will be on sale.  Hugh Hefner himself initialled some of these boards for approval.

In fact, there is evidence of Hefner’s presence in several aspects of the collection.  A representative said that Mr. Heffner was very involved with the artistic turnout at Playboy and it is natural that you will find evidence of his presence, like his scribbled initials, on different features of the offerings.


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