Rare Tintin artifacts to go under the hammer

Thu May 20, 2010 6:03am EDT
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By John Irish

PARIS (Reuters Life!) - Finding a safe investment in crisis times may be tough, but just a year before Hollywood takes Tintin to the big screen, collectors are vying for rare memorabilia of the cub Belgian cartoon hero at a Paris auction.

The Tintin series -- created by Georges Remi under his pen name Herge -- has become one of the most popular comics in the world with translations in more than 50 languages and 200 million copies of the 24 books sold.

There is huge appetite for collectors of anything related to the diminutive investigative journalist and adventurer.

In 2008, the original cover of "Tintin in America" sold for about 750,000 euros ($931,200). Last year, a lot of almost 600 items, including hand-drawn original cartoon strips, raised nearly 1.2 million euros with buyers from as far away as China and Lebanon.

"There's been a huge explosion of strip cartoons over the last 10-15 years and with that a secondary market has developed," said Alexis Velliet, director of auctioneers Piasa. "This generation is now looking at original drawings ... the true creators and if we go back then Herge is one of them."

The Paris auction on May 29 includes 230 items from about 70 collectors that even Herge's foundation Moulinsart, a partner in the sale, never knew existed.

A Belgian museum owns about 80-85 percent of Herge's work, but the scale of pieces ranging from original sketches, antiques and first edition covers, has surprised potential investors.

The sale -- with articles worth from 3,000 euros to as much as 250,000 euros -- includes one of just four bronze statues in circulation depicting a bequiffed tintin with his trusted fox terrier sidekick Snowy valued at between 100,000-120,000 euros.   Continued...