Comics artist Jim Lee, who now serves as co-publisher of DC Entertainment, made an amazing life choice back in 1993. He bought a couple of illustrations by famed artist Jack Kirby at a Sotheby’s auction. At the time, they were described as concept art for a film adaptation of Roger Zelazny’s sci-fi novel Lord of Light, a movie that was never made. The illustrations weren't some of Kirby's most popular works, but Lee thought they looked pretty cool so he snatched them up.
Well, that all turned out to be just the tip of the iceberg. The CIA declassified information and revealed that copies of the illustrations were used in a cover up for a covert operation. The agency removed six U.S diplomats from Iran during the Iran hostage crisis in 1979-1981 by convincing authorities that the prisoners were just Canadian film crew members who were looking for locations for a Lord of Light film, which CIA agent Tony Mendez renamed Argo.
We're sure you have made the connection by now. The recent film starring Ben Affleck that won an Academy Award for Best Picture was based on this event. Lee didn't realize exactly how historic the illustrations were until news of the movie broke and WIRED published a story about the event.
“I was pretty familiar with most of Jack’s work from his days at Marvel [Comics]–and at DC–but this jumped out at me because it was something I’d never seen before,” Lee said to WIRED. “It didn’t even matter to me where it came from or its origins. I just thought it was a great example of his work.”
The original ink-on-paper illustrations named Planetary Control Room (Interior) and Pavilions of Joy will be sold by Heritage Auctions. Lee paid about $8,000-$10,000 for the two pieces at the time, however they will be sold for at least $10,000 each, which is a pretty good gain. Well played, sir.