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 popularized "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)