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A rejected cover for Tintin adventure ‘The Blue Lotus’ sells for record $3.9 million


A rare painting of Tintin by Belgian cartoonist Hergé sold for a record €3.2 million ($3.9 million) at Parisian auction house Artcurial on Thursday.

The 1936 illustration, intended for the cover of Hergé’s fifth Tintin book, “The Blue Lotus,” shows the young hero hiding with his dog, Snowy, in a porcelain jar. It was painted with gouache, ink and watercolor.

It was eventually rejected as a cover because it would have been to expensive to reproduce, the auction house said in a press release ahead of the sale.

The Blue Lotus was expected to sell for between $2.7 million and $3.4 million, but ultimately went for $3.9 million including fees — a world auction record both for a work by Hergé and for an original comic strip work.

“Thanks to its unique characteristics, this masterpiece of the ninth art deserves this world record and confirms the excellent health of the comic strip market,” said Eric Leroy, comic strip expert at Artcurial, said in a press release following the sale.

“This painting is so rare because it has never been on the private market before. It has been shown in Hergé’s museum and in the 1988 exhibition of the Tintin comic book series, but never privately before now,” he told CNN.

“The painting was also inspired by Hergé’s friend Chong, whom he met in 1935 in Brussels,” Leroy explained. “Chong described his native China, which influenced the story and the artwork of ‘The Blue Lotus.'”

A controversial past

Hergé, whose real name was Georges Remi, created the character of Tintin in the 1920s.

The tales have been translated into dozens of languages, and adapted for radio, television, film, theater and video games.

Despite their huge popularity, Tintin’s adventures have also been the subject of controversy.

During World War II, Hergé published Tintin strips in a Belgian newspaper allied with the Nazi regime.

And “Tintin in the Congo,” published in serial form in 1930-1931, took the boy reporter to Belgium’s then colony and depicted the African natives as inferior beings in need of civilization.

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