David Bowie painting found near North Bay, Ont., sells for record $108K in auction
SUDBURY -- A David Bowie painting bought for $5 at a donation centre near North Bay, Ont., has sold for $108,120 at auction.
In a news release Thursday, Cowley Abbott Auction said there was "a bidding frenzy" to buy the artwork by Bowie, who died after a battle with cancer in 2016.
The painting -- entitled D Head XLVI -- was found at the Macher Mall in summer 2020. In November, the person who found it (who is remaining anonymous) contacted Cowley Abbott Fine Art, an art auctioneer in Toronto, to find out more information about the painting.
Once its authenticity was verified, the 1997 painting was put up for auction. Early estimates pegged the selling price at $10,000, but was snapped up by a U.S.-based collector for more than 10 times that amount.
"The sale marks a new global auction record for a work by David Bowie, more than doubling the 2016 sale of a D Head series artwork for £22,500 (approximately $39,000 Canadian) in the United Kingdom," Cowley Abbot said in a news release Thursday.
"Within the first few days, it already set a new record. It continued to garner bids that spiked during the final hours of the auction, drawing ... almost 50 bids from across Canada and as far as Australia."
Rob Cowley, president of Cowley Abbott, said in the release that once word got out that a Bowie painting had been discovered, they were "inundated" with inquiries.
“It’s a phenomenon we call the 'Hollywood effect,' when there is a famous name attached, or when there is an extraordinary set of circumstances such as rarity or human-interest story behind the artwork,” said Cowley said.
“We’ve seen this effect previously with other artworks Cowley Abbott has sold, including a Maud Lewis painting that set an auction record in 2016, the same year Maudie, the biopic movie about Lewis, starring Sally Hawkins and Ethan Hawke was released; and with a William Kurelek painting that sold nearly three times its auction estimate for more than $40,000, that was originally gifted by the artist as a thank you for a basket of strudels.”
Valuable art in the most unexpected places
D Head is one of several works of art to recently set an auction record with Cowley Abbott. Another painting also came from northern Ontario from a Muskoka resident – a large-scale canvas by Jack Bush, Column on Browns -- that set a new global auction record for the artist, selling for $870,000.
“Valuable art can be found in the most unexpected places, as well as in your own backyard,” Lydia Abbott, vice-president of Cowley Abbott, said in the release.
“We often come upon an important work of art that has been inherited or has been in a family home for many years without the owners knowing anything about the artist or value of the work.”
For more information about Cowley Abbott, upcoming auctions and appraisals, click here.