Source: Sotheby's

Where the Wild Things Are Worth $950,000

Art by Maurice Sendak, celebrated children's book author, is on sale now at Sotheby's New York.

Just how much did you love Where the Wild Things Are? For many of the book's 20 million-plus readers, the answer is "very." For a few collectors at Sotheby's, the answer might be "just under a million dollars, before tax."

For the next three weeks, $4.5 million worth of art by Maurice Sendak, the much-loved children's book author, who also wrote In the Night Kitchen (1970) and Outside Over There (1981) is on view (and on sale) in Sotheby's New York gallery. (As opposed to the format of a traditional auction, any Sendak lover with $30,000 to spare can walk in and buy a drawing of a monster eating a pile of books without facing competition.) The show runs through Dec. 18.

The 47 works in the sale were assembled by two anonymous collectors who were friends with Sendak; most was bought straight from the artist. While some of the dollar amounts are steep—$150,000 is a lot of money for a pencil and watercolor on paper, no matter how you cut it—there's already an established market for original works by Sendak, just as there's a similarly robust market for Tintin drawings (an original plate from Tintin Au Congo sold for a reported 770,000 euros ($820,000) on Saturday at Artcurial in Paris.

"Most higher-end pieces have been sold privately, rather than at auction for that [price] level," said Richard Austin, a specialist of books and manuscripts at Sotheby's who put the sale together. "We priced these for what we knew items of similar quality have sold for in the past eight years."

There's also a thriving market for less expensive work. Bonham's has had over 150 Sendak drawings and pieces of memorabilia come up at auction; Christie's has sold dozens, too, including a first edition of Where the Wild Things Are that sold for $20,000 in 2001. 

Still, the sheer number of high-quality lots available this month at Sotheby's is unprecedented. Below, you can find the top 10, worth a collective $3.3 million. If those numbers make you roar terrible roars and gnash your terrible teeth, there's always a cheaper alternative: a new softcover edition of Where the Wild Things Are retails for a manageable $6.

 

1. Wild Thing Christmas Tree, 1976

Maurice Sendak: Wild Thing Christmas Tree, 1976
Maurice Sendak: Wild Thing Christmas Tree, 1976
Source: Sotheby's

Price: $650,000

 

2. Watercolor for JEWISH BOOK MONTH, 1985

Maurice Sendak: Watercolor for JEWISH BOOK MONTH, 1985
Maurice Sendak: Watercolor for JEWISH BOOK MONTH, 1985
Source: Sotheby's

Price: $180,000

 

3. New York Is Book Country, 1979

Maurice Sendak: New York Is Book Country, 1979
Maurice Sendak: New York Is Book Country, 1979
Source: Sotheby's

Price: $950,000

 

4. IBBY Congress 1990, 1988

Maurice Sendak: IBBY Congress 1990, 1988
Maurice Sendak: IBBY Congress 1990, 1988
Source: Sotheby's

Price: $250,000

 

5. Wild Things in the Grass, 1997

Maurice Sendak: Wild Things in the Grass, 1997
Maurice Sendak: Wild Things in the Grass, 1997
Source: Sotheby's

Price: $150,000

 

6. You First, 1997

Maurice Sendak: You First, 1997
Maurice Sendak: You First, 1997
Source: Sotheby's

Price: $500,000

 

7. Seahorse, 1997

Maurice Sendak: Seahorse, 1997
Maurice Sendak: Seahorse, 1997
Source: Sotheby's

Price: $100,000

 

8. Aliens, 1998

Maurice Sendak: Aliens, 1998
Maurice Sendak: Aliens, 1998
Source: Sotheby's

Price: $125,000

 

9. Tailored Solutions, 1998

Maurice Sendak: Tailored Solutions, 1998
Maurice Sendak: Tailored Solutions, 1998
Source: Sotheby's

Price: $175,000

 

10. A Tabletop Cow (“Moo-Reese”), 2000

Maurice Sendak (after): A Tabletop Cow (“Moo-Reese”), 2000
Maurice Sendak (after): A Tabletop Cow (“Moo-Reese”), 2000
Source: Sotheby's

Price: $225,000

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