Today, Sotheby’s announced that it will offer a rare collection of comics from collection of British music producer, Ian Levine, which is being offered through private sale. The offering comprises over 40,000 comics within a set of DC Comics publications released between 1935-2014 featuring iconic American comic book characters such as Wonder Woman, The Flash, Superman,Batman and classic protagonists from the Justice League series.
Including early comics from the the first DC edition issued in 1934, to comprehensive collections spanning decades of printed issues and promotional material featuring comic icons, the Ian Levine Collection is a pop culture trove. Levine, a major figure in the music and entertainment industry was an early influencer of the Northern Soul movement, and an original pioneer of 1980s electronic dance music genre, Hi-NRG. The UK producer made a career on sourcing rare talent and making hit records. This skill of cultivating pop culture’s gems can be seen in his avid buying of records and books during his childhood in Blackpool in the 1960s. Levine’s eventual rise to serious collecting of pop culture was initiated in London book shops in the early 1970s. After decades of rigorously amassing a trove of rare comic editions, by 2010, his collection was used as the source for illustrations in Taschen’s seminal survey 75 Years of DC Comics: The Art of Modern Mythmaking.
Sotheby’s representative, Richard Austin, Head of Sotheby’s New York Books & Manuscripts Department calls the collection the “holy grail for comics collectors” emphasizing that the archival assemblage “features some of the most valuable individual books as well as extremely rare promotional issues, the Levine Collection includes all the DC heroes that are among the most recognizable and versatile pop culture touchstones in the world.”
Spanning a vast nine decades of obsessive acquisition, the offering reflects an evolution of globally recognizable genre of cult classic characters. Encapsulating a wide array of classic literary storylines, the editions represent the precursor to modern cinematic adaptation in globally distributed popular entertainment. Having wielded a significant influence on film and television, comic culture memorabilia represents a continuously expanding intrigue around these vintage tropes.
For pop culture collecting, title, rarity and condition remain key factors in value. For this collection of materials — where evolving subject matter and formats coincides with historic milestones of the iconic DC Comics brand — the value is enhanced by the collector’s unique dedication. These sets of rare memorabilia have seen seven-figure prices in previous years. In 2014, the Action Comics #1 achieved the highest auction price for a comic selling for $3.2 million. In 2010, the auction record for an edition of Detective Comics #27 was realized at $1.1 million.