Brooklyn-based artist KAWS ne Brian Donnelly is popular enough on his but combined with a painting referencing pop culture icons and you create fertile grounds for record-smashing pricing. Sotheby’s in Hong Kong discovered the dynamic with an auction for KAWS “The KAWS Album,” a painting features characters from “The Simpsons” in a portrait taking inspiration from The Beatles’ 1967 Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band cover.
Tagged with a pre-sale estimate of $765,000–1 million, the painting sold for $14.7 million, setting a pricing high for KAWS whose previous record sale was $2.7 million in November 2018.
The painting originally was commissioned by Nigo ne Tomoaki Nagao, the founder of A Bathing Ape. The painting was part of a 33-item lot
of items belonging to Nigo.
While KAWS has always been active in Japan, his profile has been on the rise in the region. Last year he permanently installed two 26-foot tall Companion and BFF sculptures at a new shopping complex in Changsha, China in 2018, and recently he floated a 121-foot-long inflatable ‘Companion” down Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour. The floating Companion has been on a floating star, one that started on Seokchon Lake in Seoul from in July 2018.