On Tuesday, Dallas-based auction house saw success in their monthly Urban Art sale. With competitive bidding for some of the category’s top names like KAWS, RETNA and Mr. Brainwash, the sale saw a 99 percent sell-through with 66 lots achieving a total of $723,250.
Among the top selling lots were three works by KAWS, who is a mainstay in urban and street art collectibles sales across the secondary market. The most expensive KAWS work sold was an untitled black and white graphic abstract on canvas dated 2014. It made $125,000. The piece was purchased at Phillips just two years earlier. Selling for $90,625, a signature KAWS plastic toy-like sculpture 4FT Dissected Companion (Black), measuring four feet high was also among the most expensive lots, exceeding its high estimate of $80,000. A 2011 blue ink canvas by Los-Angeles-based graffiti artist RETNA, a popular sell among the street art works available also sold for $40,000.
The value of online collectible auctions like these is often found in its most eccentric lots. Of the most unique items on offer in the auction was a pair of 9 ½ vintage Apple Inc. off-white sneakers, bearing the company’s iconic rainbow logo — the lot saw aggressive initial bidding and ultimately realized a price of $9,687. The rare item just nearly met its low estimate of $10,000. The shoe is known to have been made for employees between the 1980s and early 1990s as a promotional collaboration with Adidas — it is one of only two editions that have ever been offered for public sale. As 90s fashion continues to maintain its moment in luxury street wear, the time to sell seems ripe even with a coronavirus lockdown.
Retro objects from Apple’s early days have recently seen a high level of interest at auction. Earlier this month, Boston-based RR Auction sold a 1976 Apple-1 computer, comprising a still-functioning keyboard and circuit kit — one of its earliest prototypes — for a total of $458,711. In May 2019, in a Christie’s London pop culture and collectibles sale, another edition of the machine realized a price in excess of $500,000. The computers are said to each be from a group of 175 made manually by the company’s founders, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. For brand fans, the Apple memorabilia comes with the aura of Jobs legacy and also holds value as contemporary Americana.
As the auction world continues to cultivate an active collecting base on the West-coast, rare objects with tech roots may be the hook for burgeoning wealth in Silicon Valley. Pop culture merchandise moments continue to peak interest among buyers with niche tastes, and as such in the fine art categories, rarity is key.