When Andy Warhol was a young child, the future Pop Art icon suffered from a neurological disorder brought on by a fever. He often stayed home, taking refuge in comic books and their stories of superheroes. It is therefore fitting that the sale of a complete set of the artist’s screenprints featuring Superman along with nine other fictional idols will go up for auction later this month in a sale benefiting a children’s hospital.
Norton Children’s Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky, received a gift of a complete set of the Warhol prints, known as the ‘Myths’ series, in 1986 and has displayed the works in one of its education centers ever since. But now the hospital is selling the signed works, editioned 163/200, with Dallas-based auctioneer Heritage Auctions. Proceeds from the sale will directly benefit the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit.
Warhol created the Myth series, which features images of notable characters in American culture including Mickey Mouse, Uncle Sam and Santa Claus, in 1981 at a time when the art world was pivoting away from Pop. Complete portfolios of the series are rare, according to Heritage Auctions, which describes the set as “Warhol’s appreciation of what is, in a sense, a true American canon, and our country’s ideation of itself.”
Many of the subjects in Myths, particularly Dracula, Howdy Doody and Warhol himself, emerge ominously from shadowy backgrounds painted with colors that contained diamond dust. Much of the series was created using original source material, as Warhol took polaroids of friends dressed up as the portfolio’s iconic characters.
Copies of the collection have previously commanded high bids at auction—sets of Myths prints brought in more than $1 million for Christie’s and Sotheby’s in 2014 and 2022 respectively, according to auction data compiled by Artsy. And in 2015, Sotheby’s sold Warhol’s Superman silkscreen for an astounding $14.3 million.
Bidding starts at $300,000, and the portfolio is expected to realize up to $800,000 at Heritage’s upcoming Prints and Multiple’s Signature Auction on October 24. With an emphasis on Pop Art and post-war works, the auction will also include lots like Keith Haring’s Andy Mouse, a 1986 collection of colorful screenprints that fuse Warhol and Mickey Mouse with a high estimate of $900,000. Another Warhol portfolio featuring images of Muhammed Ali is expected to bring in $350,000, while four screenprints by Jean-Michel Basquiat could realize up to $250,000.
The ‘Myths’ proceeds will benefit the hospital’s NICU
All proceeds from the sale of Myths will support the Louisville-based hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit, one of the preeminent and largest centers of its kind in the country. Norton Children’s Hospital is also a pediatric teaching facility for the University of Louisville School of Medicine and the area’s only full-service and free-standing children’s hospital.
“In Myths you’ll see some of the great characters that warm your heart as you think about your childhood and about the greatest moments of art and entertainment,” said Lynnie Meyer, senior vice president and chief development officer of the hospital, in a statement. “It’s bittersweet to lose such a beautiful collection, but we are into the art and science of healing and caring and the sale of this collection will have so much impact on our ability to do that work.”