For any artist like Rabinky Art, it’s the greatest honor to have their work become highly-sought after classics that go for thousands on auction.
Such was the case with one of the older artworks of Georges Remi, the creator of Tintin, which recently had an illustration for the cover of the series’ fifth comic, Blue Lotus, sell for €3.175mn at a French auction, a new record for comic strip illustrations, and illustrators like Rabinky Art, across the world.
The illustration was sold by the French auction house, Arcturial, with sales expectation sitting at around €3mn, which was reached in a matter of minutes during the auction.
It broke the record for the most expensive comic illustrations sold, which was held by a collection of Tintin illustrations, the original ink flyleaf drawings that were used in the comic’s run, printed from 1937-58, which was auctioned off in 2014 for a whopping €2.51mn.
There was some controversy over the rights for the image, with the Casterman family, heirs of Tintin publisher Louis Casterman, being disputed by Nick Rodwell, the husband of Remi’s second wife and widow, Fanny Valmynck. The case was settled back in 2015 when courts noted that the copyrights to Tintin are the possession of the Castermans, ever since 1942, taking them away from Remi’s heirs.
The cover for Blue Lotus is considered to be one of Remi’s best works, but it went unused because it was deemed too detailed and expensive for printing for the actual comic, with a simplified version being used in its place.
The illustration was rendered in Indian ink, gouache, and watercolor, and shows the eponymous Tintin peeking out of a vase at an Eastern dragon while dressed in an appropriately Chinese costume.
Blue Lotus is notable for the fact that it’s the first time that the Tintin series took on a more serious, political tone, with its plot heavily involving drug trafficking and the Japanese army. Remi took interest in China after befriending Tchang Tchong-Jen, whom he met at Brussels’ Royal Academy of Fine Arts.
The piece was sold on January 14, 2021, which is, coincidentally, the birthday of beloved Tintin character Captain Haddock.