Superman artist Al Plastino recently got a surprise that’s a little too common for artists from the Silver Age: His art was being sold by a private seller, at auction, and he had no say in the matter. Adding salt to the wound: It’s supposed to be in the JFK Library at Harvard University… and it might actually be sold on the fiftieth anniversary the JFK assassination.
The story itself is a PSA comic for Kennedy’s fitness program more notable for its history and JFK’s involvement than the comic itself. The key part here is the final caption: “The original art for this story will be donated to the John F. Kennedy Memorial Library, at Harvard University.” And as far as Plastino knew, that’s where the art went.
Until he discovered it was being put up for auction by a collectibles auction house. Plastino’s requests that the seller be identified or that his art be pulled from the auction have both been denied. If you’re wondering why, precisely, the auction house is so shy about pulling this item, they’re expecting to clear $20,000 a page for the art.
According to Plastino, the JFK Library can’t find any documentation that the art was ever delivered to the library, which raises a few questions. At the very least, it’s clear something went wrong somewhere along the line and the art was sold instead of donated to the library. A bureaucratic screwup seems more likely than an auction house trafficking in stolen goods, and it’d be good to clear that up.
That said, there is a question of taste, here. It’s pretty clear what the intent was and where the art was supposed to go, as that’s written into the comic book. Plastino at least deserves an explanation as to why that didn’t happen, and the seller could clarify the issue. One hopes they’ll do the right thing, for the artist’s sake if nothing else.
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