Yesterday Heritage auctions sold off another wing from the warehouse of works from the Martignetti collection. The prices for the Bolles paintings on the auction block as well as some of his other pinups were in a word, astonishing. The previous record for Bolles at auction was a bit over 38 grand at an Illustration House auction held several years ago. It was the painting was for this cover of Breezy Stories published in 1937 (for some reason a lot of paintings from 1937 have survived) and when you look at the magazine cover (gotta love that nameplate) it's easy to see why bidders were so motivated.
But the prices realized yesterday put Bolles in a whole new ballgame. His top item was the Slipping Beauty cover for the February, 1935 issue of Film Fun. There's no doubt that it is a special Bolles but I was shocked to see that when the mallet fell the winning bid topped $65,000! It went more than the Petty's, the Vargas pinups for Playboy and even a really nice Elvgren (though two other Elvgren's went for an incomprehensible 200 grand!!). Unless pinup collecting has suddenly become a hobby of Goldman Sachs traders, it is hard to fathom this recent surge of interest. On one hand I'm pleased to see works of Enoch Bolles gaining wider recognition and interest (you can see a video of a couple of the paintings and other nice examples from Martignetti's collection at the Heritage auction web site) but on the other hand it bodes poorly for many collectors who might hope someday to own their own original. A few people have given me a bit of grief for contributing to this trend, but I sincerely doubt that anything I've written about Bolles has had an impact on this. I hope not, at least not until after I get my hands on that one particular Bolles original I pray is still out there sitting in somebody's closet, begging for a new home.