Laura Levine
The Value of Napkin Scribblings
posted: January 20, 2007
It was interesting to read how Crumb's little napkin scribbles sell for a tidy sum. (And well they should). A few minutes ago I switched on Antiques Roadshow and there was a fellow who had a scribble of some butterflies on a napkin (food stains and all) done by Andy Warhol in the 80s, and it was appraised at $20 - 30,000. (Yes, you read right.)

Now, I understand the value of his work, but that seemed rather extreme. If you were to actually reflect on the artistic (or even historical) merits of the piece, something dashed off at a party, the value seemed pretty inflated to me.

I was also musing about how weird it must be to be an artist (thinking more of Crumb) who is aware that every little scribble he makes has significant value. Like minting thousand dollar bills. It's nice to see that it hasn't affected his motivation. If it were me, I might get VERY lazy if I knew anything and everything I produced had an instant and seriously profitable market.
Zina Saunders January 20, 2007
I never use napkins...I draw on my sleeve.
joseph daniel fiedler January 20, 2007
I have heard [from a guy that lives across the street from my best friend] of a woman who has a napkin [linen] with a sketch for George Washington's false teeth designs [3] made by and signed Thomas Jefferson. She apparently got it on eBay along with a set of Sam The Sham salt and pepper shakers [limited edition] and a used Man from U.N.C.L.E. lunch box. Just Kidding!
J.D. King January 21, 2007
I never use napkins. I wipe my mouth with my sleeve. I'm a mountain man. We ain't dainty.
Scott Bakal January 21, 2007
Hey Laura: Usually, when I get together with a certain bunch of people, we ask for a pile of bar napkins and create wonderful 'bar murals'. One person would start and the rest would continue along. We also start drawing characatures of others sitting around the bar. Oh, it is great fun. I actually have some stuck on my fridge here. I know...high class, huh? Nothing like a bar napkin, a drink and a ball-point pen.
Michael Sloan January 21, 2007
Laura - I have a true story about Picasso, napkin scribblings, and valuing one's work: I knew someone who worked with Picasso in Paris a long time ago. One day he and Picasso went to a restaurant for lunch. The owner recognized Picasso at once, and when it was time to pay the bill, the owner said "Mais non! You do not need to pay money here. All you need to do is draw something on your napkin for me. That will be compensation enough!" Picasso agreed, did a drawing on his napkin, and presented it to the awestruck restaurant owner who was certain that he had just acquired a fortune. The owner looked at the napkin and said to Picasso: "But Monsieur, you haven't signed your drawing!" Picasso replied: "That's true. But I haven't bought your restaurant!"