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Ludwig Van
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THE SCOOP | David Bowie Painting Breaks Auction Record

By Anya Wassenberg on June 24, 2021

Bowie-painting-
(l) D Head XLVI (Image courtesy of Cowley Abbott)

A $5 investment has turned into a bonanza for the lucky person (who wishes to remain anonymous) who bought a painting by David Bowie at a donation centre for household goods in South River, Ontario.

The buyer immediately recognized Bowie’s signature on the back, and brought it to an auction house. After doing due research, Cowley Abbott Auction put it into their recent Online Auction of International Art.

There, the piece titled D Head XLVI, part of a series of approximately 45 works on canvas by Bowie with similar titles, sold for $108,120 CAD to a private collector in the United States — or more than 10 times its low-end original estimate.

The details

  • It’s a new global auction record price for a David Bowie piece.
  • The previous record was set in 2016, when another D Head series painting sold for £22,500 (approximately $39,000 CAD) in the UK.
  • The original auction estimate was $9,000 to $12,000.
  • That estimate was surpassed within a few hours of opening.
  • The painting drew more than 50 bids from across Canada and the United States, and from as far away as Australia.

“Our gallery was inundated with calls and interest for the Bowie painting throughout the duration of our Online Auction of International Art. 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 Rob Cowley, President of Cowley Abbott in a media release.

“Valuable art can be found in the most unexpected places, as well as in your own backyard,” says Lydia Abbott, Vice-President of Cowley Abbott. “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.”

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