Courtesy of Artcurial

Would You Pay $550,000 for a Tintin Cartoon?

No fewer than 137 lots hit the block at Artcurial on Nov. 21.

Tintin, that indefatigable (cartoon) boy-reporter created by the Belgian Hergé (George Remi) in 1929, has captured the hearts and minds of children and adults for the past 90 years. He's also snared the attention of a devoted group of deep-pocketed collectors. Last month, a double-page strip from King Ottokar's Sceptre sold for €1.6 million ($1.7 million) at Sotheby's in Paris, and a record was set the year before when original art for Tintin and the Shooting Star sold for almost $3 million at the Brussels Antique Fair. 

This weekend, Tintin will face yet another test as dozens of Tintin-themed lots hit the auction block at Artcurial, a Paris auction house whose stately headquarters look out onto the Champs-Élysées. The top lot is an extremely rare original plate from Tintin Au Congo (a 1930-31 serialized comic-cum-book that glorifies Beglium's appalling colonial history, turns the Congolese into racially problematic caricatures, and, as icing on the cake, plugs big game hunting). It carries a high estimate of $550,000, an amount Eric Leroy, the specialist who organized the sale, describes as reasonable for the current market. "It's not uncommon to find drawings by Hergé for more than half a million" euros, he says. "There's an Hergé museum, and they have maybe 98 percent of his production; original plates are very hard to find."

Leroy estimates that only 40 to 50 original plates are on the market. "The real problem," he says, "is to find masterpieces to put in auctions, because people have collected for a long time, and they hold on to what they buy."

Below, check out the top lots of the sale. Will Tintin prevail? If he made it to the moon and back, chances are he'll make it through an auction ….


First edition, Tintin in the Congo, 1946


First edition of Tintin in the Congo, 1946

Courtesy of Artcurial

Estimate: €8,000 to €9,000


Ink and collage cigar advertisement, 1970


Meharis Cigar Advertisement in ink and collage, 1970

Courtesy of Artcurial

Estimate: €12,000 to €15,000 


The Broken Ear illustration for a coloring book, 1950 


An illustration from The Broken Ear, annotated by Herge

Courtesy of Artcurial

Estimate: €4,000 to €6,000 


Tintin, Snowy, and Rocket drawing, 1953-54


Tintin, Snowy, and Rocket, inscribed "With Our Best Wishes for 1954."

Courtesy of Artcurial

Estimate €30,000 to €40,000 


Original plate from Tintin in the Congo, 1937  


The third plate for the 1937 edition of Tintin in the Congo

Courtesy of Artcurial

Estimate: €300,000 to €500,000 


Page from a pop-up book version of Red Rackham’s Treasure, 1970 


A page from the animated The Treasure of Red Rackham

Courtesy of Artcurial

Estimate: €60,000 to €80,000 


Ink drawing for the Tintin TV show, 1977 


Ink drawing for a Tintin TV show, called Head and Legs. Signed and dated 1977

Courtesy of Artcurial

Estimate: €12,000 to €15,000 


A “backup copy” of a strip from The Shooting Star, 1942


A backup copy from The Shooting Star from 1942

Courtesy of Artcurial

Estimate: €65,000 to €85,000


A charcoal drawing from The Red Sea Sharks, 1958 


Charcoal drawings for Coke en Stock from 1958

Courtesy of Artcurial

Estimate: €180,000 to €220,000 


First edition, Tintin in America, 1946


An original copy of Tintin in America

Courtesy of Artcurial

Estimate: €8,000 to €10,000

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