Proving that sentiment sells, the original 1952 cover art for the best-selling children's book, Charlotte's Web by E.B. White, brought an incredible sum at tonight's sale by Heritage Auctions in New York City. The cover art drawn by legendary children's illustrator Garth Williams sold for $155,350 more than five times the pre-sale estimate and a world's record for any of Williams' art.
"The buyer is an anonymous New York collector who did not say what his plans are for the art," said Barry Sandoval, director of operations for the comics and original comic art auctions at Heritage.
White's story of Wilbur the pig, Charlotte the Spider and Fern, the young girl who tries to save Wilbur from the slaughterhouse, has enchanted generations of children. Another famous drawing from the book, the page 95 illustration entitled, "There Was the Handsome Pig, and Over Him, Woven Neatly in Block Letters, Was the Word TERRIFIC," brought $95,600. The late artist's family consigned 42 of Williams' original illustrations for Charlotte's Web to the auction, and they brought a combined total of $780,245 (including the 19.5 percent buyer's premium paid by all winning bidders).
"The response to the Charlotte's Web art was tremendous, especially to the iconic cover art. We expected that the cover art would exceed our initial estimate of $30,000 or more, but for it to break $150,000 is breathtaking. It just shows how universally beloved this book and this art really are," said Sandoval.