Estate sale find of my life - Peter Max print

So there’s this little estate sale storefront type place we like to stop at every few weeks or so. Awhile back they got in some nice art including a cool signed Peter Max print (hand-dated 1971 next to his signature). They had it priced around $400.

We stopped in on Saturday, and I noticed the Max print was still there and had cracked glass on the front of the frame. I asked if the glass had recently been cracked and apparently a customer accidentally put their knee into it (it wasn’t hung up, it was propped against a wall or something on the floor). They didn’t make that customer buy it because the print itself was left undamaged, but they did lower the price a bit to $300 after it happened.

Here’s a photo of the print, and you can see the cracked glass. Here’s a photo of his signature, which is hard to see depending on the light but is in the lower right. I put the tape on myself to try and keep it together better while transporting it.

The lady working the shop that day told me that if I was interested in it she could knock some more off, and bring it down to $240. I didn’t show much interest and mentioned how I’d have to replace the glass, so she brought it down again to $200. After some quick research on signed Max prints from the same era, they seemed to sell easily in the $400-500 range, minimum, so I decided to go ahead and pull the trigger on buying it.

After getting it home, I wanted to find out the name of the print to see if I could find more accurate sales history on this specific piece. After a bit of Googling, I found that it’s titled “Rhythmic Man” and I found one for sale on an art gallery’s website for $12,000(!!!).

Now, I’m no spring chicken when it comes to estate sales and figuring out the value of things so I looked closer and saw that this $12k print is numbered out of 100. Ok, I thought… No chance in hell I have one of these. I just have some other lamer version. Took a closer look at the print and HOLY SHIT IT’S NUMBER 26/100!!!

Further research tells me that this is one of Max’s rarest works and besides the $12k one, there’s one other gallery that has one for sale and they are asking $9,500 for it. I also found an old eBay auction that appears to have sold for around $7k a few years ago.

So needless to say I was freaking out over this all weekend. First order of business, of course, is to get the glass replaced. After that I think it’s just going to get hung on our wall for awhile. Peter Max is still alive, but seeing as he’s 76 now, I figure I can be patient and see how long he stays with us and wait to look into selling it until after he passes. At some point I need to pay a legit art appraiser to give a value for insurance purposes.

Definitely the best find I’ve ever made. And I’m a big fan of the piece anyway (or wouldn’t have bought it), so it’s win-win.

Congrats! Nice find

Cool! Valuable and nice to look at as well.

My problem would be, how to proceed. Hang it on the wall, or try to sell it?

Good story! Yeah, I’d say you have something there. I just sold a Mose Tolliver painting on eBay and got only $900 for it–when a few years ago, before we were all broke, would have sold for at least twice that. So I think it’s good to wait some time, until we’re all rich again. :rolleyes:

Enjoy it–and good luck!

Since I’m only $200 into it, I’m happy to hang it on the wall for awhile. If he dies (and who knows, he could obviously live another 20 years) interest in his stuff should jump and then I will probably look into selling it. Mid-Century stuff like this is so hot these days that I could completely miss the boat on selling it though if I wait, art being the fickle market that it is.

I really do love the piece on its own merits, regardless of the value, so I’m happy to just find a great spot on the wall to show it off for awhile - at least until we need college money for the kids or something.

Odd that a place selling that kind of stuff wouldn’t have checked it out a little before pricing it. Congrats on a nice find!

Yeah really. I’ve written off the idea of any “good finds” anymore because of the availability of information on pricing. Yeah maybe Joe Garage Sale is just pricing junk to sell but it’s crazy to find something like this at an actual shop. So - good find indeed!

I’m as shocked as you are because this place routinely has REALLY nice art with prices to match and they’re not afraid to ask top dollar (and they sell it too). I live in the north shore area of the Chicago burbs and there’s a lot of money in the area.

When this piece was brought in a few months back, they also had a really cool signed print by Calder that sold right away. Right now they even have a signed Dali print for sale that they’ve had authenticated (surprisingly, given how notorious his work is regarding fakes).

My theory is that they did what I did, looked at sales of signed Max prints from that era and saw that they generally sold in a certain range, and didn’t bother trying to find info on this specific piece. I had to dig a bit to even find the title (basically only using the year to help me narrow it down).

More shocking to me isn’t that they priced it so low, but that nobody else in the last few months has bothered to dig deep enough to know what this is.

Of course, he’s not for everyone’s tastes so that could have something to do with it.

It’s hard. Really hard. You just have to get lucky… Last year we picked up an amazing framed Erte poster (for the Chicago Civic Opera) from 1968 for $35 and found out that it regularly sells for $700-900. He only did 3 posters in his career and this was one of them.

It’s a long shot, but you might drop him a line to let him know the story., of course.

Wow, nice find! You must have a good eye. I didn’t realise Peter Max was still A Thing.

I know someone who owns a resale/antique store and she stopped at a roadside flea market in Northern Michigan several years ago and someone was selling old nautical items. She recognized the signature on a piece of scrimshaw as being that of a 19th century ship’s captain of note and bought it for a few hundred dollars. After doing some research and finding it was worth a LOT more, she eventually sold it to a dealer in New York for, I think, about thirteen grand.

And your print is much prettier than a scratched-upon piece of whale tusk!

Not to sound morbid, but you might want to hang on to it for a while. If he pre-deceases you, sell. The value will likely increase even more at that point.

Don’t mention that part about him dying. And don’t give a link to the thread!

Please make sure you do NOT hang it where there is any danger of direct sunlight!
It would ruin the signature and maybe the art as well.

The bathroom would probably be a poor choice of placement as well, I imagine…

I bought a piggy bank at a thrift store that still had a quarter in it.

I have some art framed in “special” glass that supposedly is better for what’s behind it. I trusted the framers on this, don’t know if it’s true.

Take it to the Antiques Roadshow when they’re in your area. They love stories like this!

What do you know, they’re going to be here in July.

I like my chances… look for me on TV!

You also might want to insure it too. Ask your insurance agent; they do this kind of thing all the time, and it doesn’t cost very much.