The original art for the 12 covers known as the “Soul of MAD” are now officially the “SOLD of MAD“.
The originals paintings for the covers of issues #30 (pictured above), #31, #32, #36, #38, #43, #94, #96, #126, #153, #154 and #171, along with 24 other original cover illustrations and vintage MAD artwork sold at an auction conducted by Heritage Auction Galleries on the 14th of this month for a combined total of just under $750,000. According to the linked article, that was over twice the projected amount for the collection of MAD art. Issue #30, which featured the first definitive Alfred E. Neuman cover painting by Norman Mingo, fetched a whopping $203,150. It was purchased by renowned collector Micheal Gidwitz, who owns arguably the greatest personal collection of MAD original art in the world. Now he has the most famous and valuable of all MAD covers as well. Hmpf… he still doesn’t own an original Tom Richmond page from MAD! However I’d let one go to him for a relatively cheap $10,000 or so…
I’ve gotten a few e-mail from folks theorizing this is the beginning of the end for MAD… they had been quoted in several books as saying they’d never sell those 12 covers no matter how high the offer. Well the thing is those covers weren’t “theirs” to sell or not sell. They were owned by Time Warner and the person that sold them in the first place was Bill Gaines himself in 1960.¬¨‚Ä† Gaines sold MAD to Premier Industries, who sold it to National Periodical Publications who became DC Comics who merged with the Kinney Corporation who bought Warner Brothers Movies who then became Warner Communications which became Time Warner… who sold these MAD covers. At least that’s how I think it went down.
Anyway it’s not the end of MAD. If Time Warner and DC were planning on shutting down the magazine, don’t you think they’d have done that FIRST, and THEN sold these paintings and originals at auction? They would have been more valuable considering that MAD would then have been a retired pop culture phenomenon… not to mention along with all the publicity that retirement would have garnered. Besides, MAD is more valuable to Time Warner in production than out. It outsells most of DC’s best selling comics and it’s licensing properties are more viable with it on the stands.
No, they were sold because somebody upstairs decided three quarters of a million dollars (or the $350,000 or so they expected to get) is a little more of a decorating budget than MAD needed for their offices. I believe I was told by someone at MAD that high quality reproductions were made prior to the sale and those prints are now hanging in the same cheap frames the originals were in around the offices.
It’s still sad that the originals are gone, but they were bought by folks who hopefully will preserve them for posterity and show them frequently to the public.
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