Los Angeles: 1977. First Edition. Fabulously ethereal watercolor and graphite on thin paper (20” X 28”). Painted for a Feb. 1977 Playboy Magazine interior illustration (and not all are). Pencil note to the printer in the upper right corner reads, “Redhead, black smoke negligee, black satin ribbon, white phone” (the ribbon was changed to ice blue when published and all the color was intensified, but in Playboy’s printed picture she didn’t turn out quite as pretty). A lackluster alternative caption in pencil (“Please talk loud and clear Mister Reid. This butterfly coming out of the cocoon will bug you!”), is written along the extreme upper margin (not shown in our picture). Near fine. Framed with UV. Ex–Alberto Vargas, his estate stamp of authentication on the verso, an irrefutable provenance since it is attached to the art. Vargas (1896–1982) was dismissed in fine art circles as merely an illustrator. He laughed, bathed in his fame, and didn’t care. Near fine. Item #498
The auction record for a Vargas Playboy interior painting is $179,250 on Feb. 27, 2010. 2 more recent sales were $68,750 and $100,000 both on Oct. 12, 2018, and a similar, lesser version of our painting, on board, sold for $25,000, also in 2018.