Playboy magazine is going to sell some of its most memorable, iconic photographs and artworks in a London auction at Christie’s, Dec. 8. It will feature photographs that were shot for the magazine’s 1953 debut cover of Marilyn Monroe.
Among other featured pieces are a 1966 scarlet-lipstick mouth painting by pop artist Tom Wesselmann. It’s expected to sell for $2 million to $3 million.
A Salvador Dali painting of a reclining nude that hung in Playboy founder and owner Hugh Hefner’s bedroom is expected to sell in the same range.
Playboy Enterprises Inc., parent of the iconic magazine, is struggling and the magazine is up for sale.
Founder Hefner is also trying to take the publicly traded company private.
Some 80 photos in all and more than a dozen pieces of contemporary art will make up the lot. Many pieces could fetch millions of dollars, according to Christie’s.
The magazine’s 1953 debut cover of Monroe, purchased from news wire service, United Press, shows Monroe riding in the back of a convertible at a parade.
Playboy editors painted out the background and superimposed the photo over its logo to create the cover of its first issue.
Other photos feature some of the most recognizable sex sirens from the magazine’s 53-year history.
French sex kitten Brigitte Bardot is featured from the March 1958 Playboy. Bardot, 24 at the time, is expected to sell for as much as $6,000.
Still other photos are more recent. A 1993 photo of “Baywatch” star Pamela Anderson snuggling with Saturday Night Live’s Dan Akroyd, in his conehead costume from the show.
Supermodel Elle McPherson and model Cindy Crawford, are featured in provocative, semi-nude photos taken by ace photographer Herb Ritts.
Cathy Elkies, director of corporate collections at Christie’s, said viewers would be surprised by the collection’s sophistication.
“The unexpected thing is that Playboy really did marry fine, high-quality art with the traditional photographs of women,” she said.
“What will pique people’s interest is that when you open the catalog, you realize that this is pretty serious.”