The original 1952 cover art for the best-selling children’s book, Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White, brought $155,350 on Friday, Oct. 15 as a feature of Heritage Auctions’ Signature Illustration Art auction. Part One of Garth Williams: The Art of Charlotte’s Web – consigned by the late great artist’s family – brought more than $780,000, with the cover art to the famous book establishing a world record price for any Williams art. The price for the cover was more than five times the pre-sale estimate. All prices include 19.5 percent buyer’s premium.
The auction proved to be Heritage’s second highest-grossing Illustration Art Auction since the inception of the category, tallying an impressive total exceeding $3.75 million – eclipsed only by the February 2010 $4.5 million Illustration Art Auction – with 939 bidders vying the more than 500 lots in the auction, translating into a 97.4 percent sell-through by total value. The auction marked the first major event for Heritage under the auspices of its newly opened New York offices at 445 Park Avenue (at 57th Street).
“The response to the Charlotte’s Web art was tremendous,” said Barry Sandoval, director of operations for the comics and original comic art auctions at Heritage, “especially to the iconic cover art. We expected that the cover art would exceed our initial estimate of $30,000 or more, but for it to break $150,000 is breathtaking. It just shows how universally beloved this book and this art really are.”
Another famous drawing from the book, the page 95 illustration entitled, “There Was the Handsome Pig, and Over Him, Woven Neatly in Block Letters, Was the Word TERRIFIC,” brought $95,600.