Masterpieces of Pin-Up at Heritage Auctions: Elvgren, Leyendecker, Vargas

After the mid-summer results of an auction that re-defined the field of Illustration Art, Heritage Auctions is readying the second round of selections from The Charles Martignette Estate in its Signature Illustration Art Auction, Oct. 27, at Heritage’s Dallas Design District Annex, 1518 Slocum Street.

The emphasis of the October auction on some of Martignette’s best pin-up acquisitions is led by the king of the genre, Gil Elvgren, with seven incredible pin-up canvases coming on the block from both the Martignette collection and other consignors, all of which are classics of the form. Nowhere is Elvgren’s mastery more evident than in his brilliantly colorful, thematically bold and scintillating 1957 painting Something’s Bothering You (What’s Wrong?), estimated at $30,000-$40,000.

Esquire Magazine’s original gatefold pin-up artist, George Petty, is amply represented in the second part of Martignette with a Petty Girl that was drawn not for Esquire, actually, but for its glamour art rival, True Magazine, in 1947, almost a decade after Petty left Esquire. In this Pin-Up, a pouting young blond woman stares distractedly off the canvas, cradling a large pink telephone against her right ear, a favorite device of the artist, and one he uses to perfect effect in this piece, estimated at $8,000-$10,000.

“This is perhaps the single most striking Petty to ever come up at public auction,” said Greg Rohan, President of Heritage Auctions.

The pin-up offerings in this auction, from numerous consignors, are rounded out by more masters of the form than there is room to mention, though the most spectacular early Vargas painting that Heritage has ever offered, his sensuous and intriguing 1928 Pin-Up, estimated at $50,000-$70,000, provides a superb exclamation point to the grouping. This painting, done nearly a decade before Vargas started his groundbreaking work at Esquire Magazine, shows the artist’s early mastery of his material.

Heritage Auctions, co-founded by Steve Ivy and Jim Halperin, is the world’s third largest auction house, and by far the largest auctioneer of rare collectibles, with annual sales more than $700 million, and 450,000+ registered online bidder members. For more information go to