Entertainment & Arts

Playboy artwork sells at New York auction

Salvador Dali and Hugh Hefner
Image caption Salvador Dali (l) was 84 at the time of his death, the age Hugh Hefner (r) is now

A Dali watercolour of a reclining nude that once hung in Playboy founder Hugh Hefner's bedroom has fetched $266,500 (£168,500) at a New York auction.

The nude, which featured in a 1967 issue of Playboy, was among 125 artworks owned by the magazine to go under the hammer at Christie's.

Mouth No. 8, a 1966 oil painting of a scarlet-lipsticked mouth by pop artist Tom Wesselmann, sold for $1.9m (£1.2m).

Wednesday's sale included 80 photos and 24 cartoons.

Nearly all the items up for grabs had appeared in the magazine, first published in 1953.

The Dali watercolour was part of a 1967 issue that asked artists to create art inspired by Playboy's "Playmate" models.

Sold to an anonymous bidder, the piece had been expected to fetch no more than $150,000 (£95,000).

Wesselmann's work, part of a series the artist began in 1965, sold for slightly less than expected.

Image caption Tom Wesselmann's Mouth No. 8 had been expected to fetch between $2m and $3m

Yet Aaron Baker, curator of the Playboy Art Collection, still called it a great example of his work "from his best period".

In an interview last month, Playboy editor-in-chief Hefner said the magazine had blurred the lines between "fine" and "popular" art.

"Before Playboy and a few other places, commercial art was essentially... very realistic," the 84-year-old said.

"We introduced into commercial illustration the whole notion of everything from abstract to semi-abstract to stuff that you found on a gallery wall."

According to Baker, the sale represented a fraction of Playboy's archive of 5,000 contemporary works and more than 20 million photographs.

The archive is currently held at a storage building in Chicago, where Playboy Enterprises is based.

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