ArtNet reports that a David Bowie painting that originally sold for just less than $5 at a Canadian landfill has set a new auction record for the artist and musician. The artwork has sold for CA $108,120 ($87,789 USD), including fees, at Toronto’s Cowley Abbott auction house.
Rob Cowley, chairman of Cowley Abbott said that he thinks that “a big part of the interest in the painting is the story of the acquisition. And then there are a lot of collectors who didn’t realize that David Bowie was also a visual artist… there’s a lot of excitement around the artwork.”
Titled DHead XLVI (1997), the painting turned up outside a landfill outside South River, Ontario last summer. The canvas is from Bowie’s “Dead Heads” series, of which there are believed to be between 40 and 50 paintings. The semi-abstract portraits of Bowie’s friends, family members, and bandmates date from the mid-1990s.
Today’s sale smashed Bowie’s existing sale record. Which was set in March 2016—shortly after the star’s unexpected death from liver cancer that January—with a £22,500 ($31,725) sale of a painting from the same series at Lyon and Turnbull in Edinburgh, according to the Artnet Price Database. Another “Dead Heads” canvas sold for $27,500 at Christie’s Online in 2018.