Assets: Erotica, Moving Mainstream, Stirs Art
Sat Feb 14, 2004 04:15 PM ET
her notable artifacts is a 31-inch-long white fiberglass phallic sculpture
used as a murder weapon in the movie "Clockwork Orange." Miss Naomi, who
paid $3,000 for it in 2000, has it insured for $15,000. She estimates that
many items have tripled or quadrupled in value since she bought them.
Paintings and sketches by Etienne, who was strongly influenced by Tom
of Finland, now sell for 10 times their value in the 1970s, said Pet
Sylvia, who runs Art(at)Large, an erotic figurative art gallery in New
Among contemporary works, those of John John Jesse, whose
Catholic-themed paintings cross over into the "lowbrow" category, have
nearly tripled in value over the last 18 months, said Sylvia, a
self-described "heterosexual drag queen."
"Believe it or not, it's through word of mouth. We're dealing with an
inventory of his that we can't keep in the house long enough," he said.
Nude paintings on wood by Frances Turner, of less-than-perfect human
subjects, have also escalated in value since the British artist died of a
brain tumor last July at age 38, Sylvia said. "She found beauty in
everyone, whether they were heavily tattooed, obese, an amputee."
"Mainstream" artists are finding their way into the market as well.
Jeff Hengst (http://www.hengst.com), largely known for his painting
commissioned by the Seattle Space Needle, showed his edgier works at the
Seattle Erotic Arts Festival, priced as high as $10,000.
"We're moving toward becoming more comfortable with human sexuality, so
that those artists creating (erotic art) will have a lot more vehicles to
showcase their work," said Dehner of the Tom of Finland Foundation.
As a result of these changes, "now is a very good time to purchase
erotic art," he said. "It's my feeling that, in the next 5 to 10 years,
it's going to break and make much deeper inroads into the mainstream."
(This column appears every other week. E-mail any comments to