10 Spooky Lots Coming to Auction This Halloween

Liz Catalano
Published on

Halloween celebrates all things ghoulish, spooky, and odd, and auction houses are joining the fun. Auction Daily surveys the spookiest lots hitting the auction block this Halloween season.

Andy Warhol, Little Electric Chair, 1964-65. Image from Larsen Art Auction.
Andy Warhol, Little Electric Chair, 1964-65. Image from Larsen Art Auction.

Larsen Art Auction – Andy Warhol Print

For his Death and Disaster series, Andy Warhol placed horrific and tragic photos under candied Pop Art colors. In Little Electric Chair, Warhol utilized a press photo of the electric chair used to execute Julius and Ethel Rosenberg in the Sing Sing prison of New York. He applied a layer of cherry red to the photo, lending a bloody tone to the already ominous image. One print of Little Electric Chair made its way to American rocker Alice Cooper. His girlfriend at the time, Cindy Lang, purchased the print from Andy Warhol’s Factory as a gift for Cooper after he used a similar electric chair onstage. Larsen Art Auction will bring this silkscreen to auction with an estimate of USD 2,500,000 to $4,500,000.

The 2021 Fall Larsen Art Auction starts on October 23rd, 2021 at 1:00 PM EDT. Participate live on Bidsquare.

Ed Moses, Untitled Tarantulas, 1983. Image from Los Angeles Modern Auctions.
Ed Moses, Untitled Tarantulas, 1983. Image from Los Angeles Modern Auctions.

Los Angeles Modern Auctions – Ed Moses Tarantulas

Ed Moses built a career on experimentation and change. His style constantly shifted as he drew inspiration from his Los Angeles art community and various art movements. While Moses is best known for his paintings, he dabbled in other mediums as well. Available with Los Angeles Modern Auctions is a spooky painted glass window by Ed Moses (estimate: $5,000 – $7,000). Yellow and green tarantulas scuttle across the black background of this piece. It previously decorated Rebecca’s Restaurant, a Frank Gehry-designed mainstay of Venice, California.

The Art + Design sale from Los Angeles Modern Auctions starts on October 24th, 2021 at 3:00 PM EDT. Bid live on LiveAuctioneers.

Vivian Maier, Self-Portrait, Silhouette. Image from Aguttes.
Vivian Maier, Self-Portrait, Silhouette. Image from Aguttes.

Aguttes – Vivian Maier Self-Portrait

American street photographer Vivian Maier lived and died in obscurity. She worked as a nanny along Chicago’s North Shore and captured the city with her camera on the weekends. Maier produced thousands of photographs during her lifetime, though they only came to light via Flickr in 2009. Aguttes, a French auction house, will bring one of Maier’s more ominous self-portraits to the market (estimate: EUR 2,000 –  €3,000 / USD 2,320 – $3,480). This piece shows the artist as a dark silhouette standing before the viewer with dubious intent.

Aguttes’ Contemporary Art Sale starts on October 25th, 2021 at 10:00 AM EDT. Bid live on LiveAuctioneers.

The skull of a juvenile Triceratops. Image from Christie’s.
The skull of a juvenile Triceratops. Image from Christie’s.

Christie’s – Triceratops Skull

Triceratops holds a prominent place in the public imagination of dinosaurs. This herbivorous species lived alongside the fearsome Tyrannosaurus rex during the late Cretaceous period. While Triceratops did not kill for food, they evolved to look menacing. Their skulls bear long, arching horns that could kill a predator with a single blow to the neck. The iconic large bony frill may have served a protective or intimidation purpose. A juvenile Triceratops skull will be available with Christie’s in late October (estimate: GBP 300,000 – £500,000 / USD 410,200 – $683,700).

Christie’s Science and Natural History auction closes on October 26th at 6:00 AM EDT. Bid online on Christie’s website.

After Pieter Bruegel the Elder, The Fall of the Magician Hermogenes, c. 1565. Image from Sotheby’s.
After Pieter Bruegel the Elder, The Fall of the Magician Hermogenes, c. 1565. Image from Sotheby’s.

Sotheby’s – Bruegel Etching

In Jacobus de Voragine’s famous story collection, The Golden Legend or Lives of the Saints, the chronicler tells of Saint James’ conflict with the magician Hermogenes. After losing a disciple to James, Hermogenes loosed a crowd of demons on the preacher during a fit of rage. However, the demons turned against the magician in the face of divine power. Hermogenes eventually abandoned his magic, threw his books into the sea, and converted to Christianity. Pieter Bruegel the Elder captured this story in vivid detail. Pieter van der Heyden later engraved and distributed Bruegel’s design, which imagined the demons as flexible and mischievous gremlins. Sotheby’s will present an early etching of Bruegel’s design in an upcoming sale (estimate: $12,000 – $18,000).

Sotheby’s auction of the Ricky Jay Collection starts on October 27th, 2021 at 10:00 AM EDT. Bid live on Sotheby’s website.

Jean Jansem, L’Atelier du Peintre (The Painter’s Workshop). Image from Dane Fine Art.
Jean Jansem, L’Atelier du Peintre (The Painter’s Workshop). Image from Dane Fine Art.

Dane Fine Art – Jean Jansem Painting

French-Armenian artist Jean Jansem created washed-out paintings with a distinctly somber quality. He used the subdued palette of Francisco Goya to capture everyday misery. Born in 1920, Jansem grew up in the aftermath of the Armenian genocide. Many of his paintings carry a foreboding tone. Jansem’s L’Atelier du Peintre (The Painter’s Workshop) will come to auction with Dane Fine Art during its Halloween Sale (estimate: $22,000 – $30,500). The watercolor and gouache piece shows a despondent nude sitting in a studio. Behind the canvas, the artist appears as a featureless black shape.

Dane Fine Art’s Halloween Sale of Modern & Contemporary Art starts on October 28th, 2021 at 12:00 PM EDT. Participate live on LiveAuctioneers.

Erie Lithography Company, Blackstone the World’s Master Magician standee, c. 1917. Image from Potter & Potter Auctions.
Erie Lithography Company, Blackstone the World’s Master Magician standee, c. 1917. Image from Potter & Potter Auctions.

Potter & Potter Auctions – Harry Blackstone Portrait

Harry Blackstone was a leading illusionist of the 20th century. His performances were often dramatic and fantastical. His signature acts included levitating a woman from a couch, sawing a woman in half, and covering the stage in flowers. Success started early for Blackstone, who performed his first paid show at 14 years old. He changed his name to ‘Blackstone’ during World War I and launched his first national magic tour. Around this time, the Erie Lithography Company of Pennsylvania produced promotional materials for the young magician. One of these early portraits will be available with Potter & Potter in October (estimate: $4,000 – $8,000). It shows small, red-bodied devils perching on the shoulders of ‘The World’s Master Magician.’

Potter & Potter Auctions’ Salon de Magie sale of the Klosterman Collection starts on October 30th, 2021 at 11:00 AM EDT. Bid live on Potter & Potter Auctions’ website.

Vintage Halloween pumpkin parade lantern. Image from Milestone Auctions.
Vintage Halloween pumpkin parade lantern. Image from Milestone Auctions.

Milestone Auctions – Vintage Pumpkin Lantern

Halloween celebrations in the early 1900s often involved community gatherings, dances, or parades. Traditions differed based on country and region, but familiar spooky motifs were already starting to emerge. Irish immigrants brought jack-o-lanterns to the United States in the 19th century. As Halloween became more secular and popular, the pumpkin heads more frequently appeared in autumn celebrations. Milestone Auctions’ upcoming sale will bring an early parade lantern with a painted jack-o-lantern face (estimate: $600 – $800). The piece possibly dates back to the early 1900s, when tin lanterns first appeared in American Halloween parades.

Milestone Auctions’ Train, Fire, Sports, Halloween & Columbian Expo starts on October 30th, 2021 at 10:00 AM EDT. Bid live on LiveAuctioneers.

Utagawa Kuniyoshi, Takiyasha the Witch and the Skeleton Spectre. Image from Ukiyo-e Gallery.
Utagawa Kuniyoshi, Takiyasha the Witch and the Skeleton Spectre. Image from Ukiyo-e Gallery.

Ukiyo-e Gallery – Kuniyoshi Skeleton Triptych

Japanese ukiyo-e printmaker Utagawa Kuniyoshi was known for his whimsical streak. He defied the elegance of his contemporaries and often created fantastical prints for the masses. Among Kuniyoshi’s most famous works is Takiyasha the Witch and the Skeleton Spectre. This visually striking composition shows Princess Takiyasha summoning an enormous skeleton to scare off officials sent by the emperor. Kuniyoshi intended this print to shock and menace viewers— anatomically correct skeletons were still unknown in Japan at the time. Ukiyo-e Gallery will offer an edition of Kuniyoshi’s iconic print with an estimate of $1,200 to $1,500.

Ukiyo-e Gallery’s auction of Japanese woodblock prints starts on October 31, 2021 at 1:00 PM EDT. Participate live on LiveAuctioneers.

Mystery Tales #19, 1954. Image from Heritage Auctions.
Mystery Tales #19, 1954. Image from Heritage Auctions.

Heritage Auctions – Horror Comics

In 1954, the Comics Code Authority emerged to self-censor the content of American comic books. Depictions of violence, gore, and horror disappeared for decades. Vampires, ghouls, and werewolves only returned to the pages of comic books in the 1970s. Before the Code’s implementation, horror comics enjoyed a thriving market. Titles such as Mystery Tales and Shock SuspenStories brought spooky thrills to readers of all ages. Heritage Auctions will offer a selection of these pre-Code horror comics, including issue #19 of Mystery Tales (current bid: $4,100).

Heritage Auctions’ Pre-Code Horror auction begins on November 4th, 2021 at 7:00 PM EDT. Bid online on Heritage Auctions’ website.

Media Source
Writer
Liz Catalano
Liz Catalano
Senior Writer and Editor

Liz Catalano is a writer and editor for Auction Daily. She covers fine art sales, market analysis, and social issues within the auction industry. She regularly collaborates with auction houses and other clients. A Chicago native, she holds a BSW degree and is based in Pennsylvania.

More in the auction industry