Roy Lichtenstein’s Painting Sold for Only $41.7 Million; What Would Russ Heath Say?

Lichtenstein the Ring
Lichtenstein the Ring
A detail of Roy Lichtenstein’s “The Ring (Engagement)”

Tough break for the legacy of Roy Lichtenstein this week—the late artist’s “The Ring (Engagement),” which had been expected to go for about $50 million at a Sotheby’s auction, sold for just $41.7 million.

But really, what’s $8.3 million in the grand scheme of things? Nothing to get too upset about. Surely there’s a Lichtenstein doodle sitting in a desk drawer somewhere that will make up the difference.

That $8.3 million, to say nothing of the $41.7 million, might have been a bit more useful in Ted Galindo dollars, though. The original panel on which Lichtenstein’s “The Ring (Engagement)” is based was drawn by Galindo. We don’t know where Galindo is these days, or whether he is still with us, but his work dates from an era in which comics artists were paid modestly. There’s often a maddening disparity between the eventual value of old comic books (whether as collector’s items or movie/art source material) and the compensation received by the original creators—that’s what makes The Hero Initiative‘s work so laudable.

Here’s a comic created by Russ Heath that describes his feelings toward a blockbuster Lichtenstein sale based on his work (just be sure see the notes that follow) and how the Hero Initiative helped him out:

Russ Heath on Roy Lichtenstein

(Thanks to James for reminding us about this strip through our Facebook page.)

The strip above isn’t entirely accurate; as Hero Initiative president Jim McLauchlin explained to Robot 6 last year, “Whaam!” was based on an image by Irv Novick in All-American Men of War #89, published by DC Comics in 1962. “Blam!” was based on a different panel, by Heath, from the same issue. Here’s David Barsalou’s comparison from his ever-helpful Flickr album, Deconstructing Roy Lichtenstein:

Deconstructing Roy Lichtenstein by David Barsalou

Irv Novick’s original and Lichtenstein’s “Whaam!”:

Irv Novick Roy Lichtenstein Whaam

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