Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Babe Rainbow connection

So this is the big score I was referring to last week. A big score that I didn't realize was a big score until I got over the initial sticker shock and consulted my trusty iPhone for some background on Ms. Babe Rainbow (seriously, how did people shop without their iPhones back in the day? I can't remember and I think it was only a few years ago...).

What I learned is that Babe Rainbow is a limited-edition screenprint on tin (there were 10,000), created in 1968 by Peter Blake, "the godfather of British pop art" best known for designing the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band cover. On the back is a museum-label-type potted history of the piece and Blake, who says Babe is one of a series of fictitious wrestlers he painted:

She is twety-three years old and has broken her nose in the ring. She was born in New Cross, London and wrestles mainly in Europe and the USA as there have only been a few contests between lady wrestlers in London. She is the daughter of the notorious Doktor K Tortur.

According to the description, Babe was commissioned by Dodo Designs and is the "first painting ever to be commissioned for reproduction as a picture on tin." Impressive stats that meant nothing to me in my previous existence, the one in which I was blissfully ignorant of Babe Rainbow and her potential value (like, how many of those 10,000 tin screenprints do we think have survived?). Suddenly acquainted with these facts, I had to decide: to go to the ATM or to let her go?

Normally I write checks to estate-sale companies for amounts ranging from $15 to $30. I don't get into the triple digits except when furniture is involved and I've pretty much stopped buying furniture as our house has come to resemble a kind of showroom for weird, mismatched chairs. Since it was the first day of the sale, I decided to return the next day when the prices dropped and see if she was still there—then I could hem and haw some more, but I would have the kids with me and they would seriously cut into my hem-haw time. This is a wait that's usually fraught with anxiety. What if someone buys her for full price? Because according to what I'm seeing online, they've seriously underpriced it. But then, who would buy this besides me? But then again, who was the person who owned it in the first place?  This is just the kind of surprise I like to find behind the door of a faceless suburban tract home. But maybe it wasn't so surprising—maybe there are tons of houses in San Antonio occupied by Pop Art-collecting baby boomers and I'm just not going to the right houses!?

Normally, I would've gotten Lindsay to weigh in on a purchase like this, but he was in Mexico and apparently too busy to look at the photos I'd texted him till long after I left the sale. His (tardy) response was emphatic: BUY HER.

Not a huge surprise that he would be partial to the portrait of wrestler who looks like Suzy Quatro.

So, I went back the next morning, and there she still sat on a sofa, ignored by all shoppers. Should I have waited one more day for the price to drop by another 25%? The kids wouldn't let me: We want Babe! We want Babe Rainbow! they caterwauled, reminding me why I try never to shop with children: They are so irrational!

Just like their father. As soon as he saw Babe in person, he put the kibosh on my flipping her for a tidy profit. Not that I don't love her—though she lends a man-cave vibe to the place that doesn't seem entirely appropriate—it just seemed so reasonable for me to sell her. That's what a real picker would do! Oh well, at least I don't have to cough up a few more C-notes to frame her.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...