Actually dubbed, 'The Year of the Rabbit', the sale includes 80 photographs, more than a dozen contemporary works, including an oil-painting expected to fetch millions, and 24 cartoons. Among the photographs is shot of the magazine's 1953 debut cover of Marilyn Monroe, which was purchased by the magazine from United Press.
The image was shot during a parade of Monroe riding on the back of a car but Playboy swapped out the background of a crowd for its own logo. Other photos include one of Pamela Anderson in 1993, cosying up to Dan Akroyd, who is dressed as his alien character in the film Coneheads, which came out that year.
There is a gelatin silver print of a 24-year-old Brigitte Bardot which was used on the cover of the March 1958 Playboy, which is expected to fetch 4,000 dollars to 6,000 dollars. Two Herb Ritts shots are also in the sale, including a naked Elle McPherson and one of his of Cindy Crawford, her hands covering her modesty.
Also included in the auction is a scarlet-lipstick mouth by pop artist Tom Wesselmann from 1966, which is expected to sell for 2-3million dollars. There is also a watercolour by Salvador Dali of a reclining nude that hung in Playboy founder and owner Hugh Hefner's bedroom.
He said the magazine that has entertained, titillated and informed with its commissioned art has blurred the lines between fine and popular art. The auction also includes a 1970 portrait of Hefner in his signature smoking jacket and pipe. It was commissioned for the old Playboy mansion in Chicago in the late 1960s, and Playboy Enterprise inherited it after Hefner moved to Los Angeles in the early 1970s.
Cathy Elkies, the director of corporate collections at Christie's, predicted that viewers would be surprised by the sophistication of the Playboy collection. “The unexpected thing is that Playboy really did marry fine, high-quality art with the traditional photographs of women. What will pique people's interest is that when you open the catalogue, you realise that this is pretty serious," the Daily Mail quoted Elkies as saying.
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