At £5.331m combined proceeds, last week’s London photography sales were hardly anything to write home about. But they were a surprise showing for Peter Beard, the part-time expatriate, sometime husband of models and full-time photographer and collage maker.
His Heart Attack City came within a hair’s breadth of setting a new record for Beard when it sold for $634k. Here’s James Tarmy explaining Beard’s appeal on Bloomberg:
When Peter Beard includes famous people in his art, chances are he actually knew them. That’s certainly true in Heart Attack City, 1972/1998, […]. The collage, which he created in 1998, contains images—many of which Beard took himself—of Jackie Kennedy (a close friend), Andy Warhol (they collaborated on artworks together), Truman Capote (a frequent guest at Beard’s Montauk estate), Mick Jagger (Beard went on tour with the Rolling Stones), and, of course, Marilyn Monroe, possibly the only star in the assemblage with whom Beard wasn’t on cozily intimate terms.
He “discovered” the model Iman (the future Mrs. David Bowie), was painted by Francis Bacon, vacationed with Jackie Kennedy and Aristotle Onassis on his yacht, and starred in a movie.
Given Beard’s frenetic life, it’s no wonder his collages are so jam-packed, and given the glamour and beauty in his life, it’s also unsurprising that his art is so sought-after. Heart Attack City is the most expensive lot in Christie’s entire photography sale; another work by Beard is at the top of Phillip’s London photography auction on May 19th. All told, in the two days of London photography auctions, Christie’s, Sotheby’s, and Phillips are offering 15 works by Beard.