Sunday, December 6, 2009

Patrick Nagel Original Painting Market

We've recently received a few inquires about the current marketplace for original paintings by Patrick Nagel. After looking at recent auction results and gallery representation, we wanted to comment on the marketplace for Nagel's originals.

In 1976, Nagel began contributing regularly to Playboy Magazine. Working with one of the most widely read magazines in the world, Playboy exposed and popu
larized "the Nagel Woman" to a huge audience. In 1978, he created his first poster image for Mirage Editions, which would prove a fruitful relationship with the release of approximately 60 printed images during Nagel's life. In 1982 Nagel's painting for the album cover of Duran Duran's record selling album "Rio" would become one of his most recognizable images. As Nagel's images gained notoriety and collectibility in the early 80's, he began to work on canvas rather than his traditional illustration board. Tragically Nagel died February 4th, 1984 at the age of 38. Since his death the Nagel market has seen a tremendous roller coaster of ups and downs. Immediately following his death there was a surge and fever for collecting Nagel's iconic images. As the commemorative prints were developed, Nagel's name and images became synonymous with the climate and attitude of the 1980's. But as the "me" decade of the 80's passed into the 90's, the boasting bright neon colors were put away as the Savings and Loan Crisis left many melancholy in '91. Nagel's images quickly declined in popularity as the over printing of the commemoratives watered down the market. For a good portion of the general public the images became passe and took on a negative association. Once the prints were pulled off the walls of bachelor pads, they were found in abundance at thrift stores.

As the 1980's have seen a revival in popular culture, we have seen growth in the collector base and the price for original paintings. In September of 2007 Just Looking Gallery of San Luis Obispo, California held the largest Nagel show in 25 years. Working with the Nagel Estate, Just Looking Gallery brought approximately 200 original pieces to the public's attention. The introduction of original works into a gallery brought a great deal of validation back to Nagel's work. As old collectors were introduced to never before seen images, collectors from a new generation were born. Of the nearly 200 originals, approximately 100 were original acrylic paintings. Of those paintings there were 11 original canvas paintings shown. While it's unknown how many paintings on canvas Nagel created, it is believed that he painted somewhere around 50 originals. Since the retrospective show, there have been approximately 10 paintings that have come available through auction houses in the U.S. In the past year, the acrylic on board paintings have been averaging around $7,000 at auction. And while auction houses have seen a number of acrylic paintings on board sell, it is the rare canvas works that seem locked into collections. The auction block has been void of the canvas works, but prices have been hovering around $20,000 on a secondary market. Since Just Looking Gallery's retrospective show in 2007, we have seen an annual increase of around 10% at the auctions. With there still being more qualified collectors of Nagel's work than there are available Nagel originals, it's safe to say that there is room to grow!The three images above are original acrylic paintings on board that were auctioned at Heritage Auctions on October 20th, 2009. (Woman in Fishnet $7,170.00 / Woman on Toilet $9,560.00 / Woman in Jacket $13,742.50)
The two images above are original acrylic paintings on canvas that were represented and sold by Just Looking Gallery in October of 2009. (Woman Removing Top approximately $18,000.00 / Woman with Polka Dot Earring approximately $18,000.00)


  1. "And while auction houses have seen a number of acrylic paintings on board sell, it is the rare canvas works that seem locked into collections. The auction block has been void of the canvas works . . . ."

    No kidding. Genuine Nagel canvas paintings have only come up to auction in 2010 with the selling of the estate of mega-collector Charles Martignette. It seems like it takes a death to put an original into auction. Most collectors who own Nagel are not selling the gems that they own. I have two Nagel canvases, and someone will have to pry them from my cold, dead hands to get them into the market.

    1. I have a Nagel and I am not sure of its authenticity, but it is of the lady in sunglasses. I got it at an estate sale about 5 years ago. I didn't pay much for it, but if you know what I should look for, I would appreciate the information. My spouse keeps trying to give it to a cousin and I refuse to part with it. Currently mounted on living room wall above the T.V.

  2. I'm currently looking for an original Nagel on board in the $25,000 range. I frequent your guy's collection through my buddy Kate who runs Mirror80. I've got a client willing to drop cash on one and need a lead to someone who's got a gem they are willing to sell. If you guys know anyone email me at

  3. Is there a market for the Grey lady painting

    1. Do u have a grey lady for sale. I am looking for one. Email

    2. Do u have a grey lady for sale. I am looking for one. Email

  4. The first ever biography of Patrick Nagel, is complete. Being he was so successful in 1980s, the boomers in your audience will want to know. Here's why:

    Most of them either owned, or still own his art, especially if they were fans of Playboy magazine. They know his art; they just don't know his name.

    Patrick Nagel took the 1980s by storm only to die suddenly at age 38. He gave the 1980s its look and even though more than two million American homes enjoyed his art, few people even knew his name. In fact, Rob Lowe's recent Comedy Central cartoon hit, "Moonbeam City" was based on Nagel's style.

    The book is titled The Artist Who Loved Women: The Incredible Life & Work of Patrick Nagel, the Most Successful & Anonymous Artist of the 1980s , (ISBN 9786926859281) and is the only biography of Nagel's personal, professional and artistic evolution. Available at the web site or Amazon.

    I'm available for interview and you can read more about this amazing story, its wild characters and improbable triumph (along with video) at the website:

  5. Hello,
    I live in Germany and I poses an unknown painting by Patrick Nagel. It is acrylic on cardboard, 60 x 80 cm.
    It needs some restorations and it is already in the restoration workshop in Ossolinski National Library by the University of Wroclaw in Poland. I can send some images of the actually state of this painting.

    Best regards,

    Matthias Kloza

  6. Wow...I have the grey lady painting...and I can’t believe how valuable it is.

  7. As an abstract artist I’m always growing and improving my painting techniques. I expand my style by adding more bold color and thick texture to my canvases. I’m also growing to appreciate some of the bold abstracts I’ve painted, but put aside. Artist