The Simpsons remains one of the cultural staples of the millennial generation. The cartoon was at the forefront of the now-common tactic to center weekly episodic content around the pop culture developments occuring simultaneously. The strategy has made The Simpsons a televised package of the cultural developments of the last 30 years. Given its longstanding influence, it's not all that surprising that during the Sotheby's NIGOLDENEYE® Vol. 1. auction in Hong Kong, millennials purchased $28 million worth of Simpsons-themed art.
As noted by Bloomberg, one of the general takeaways from the auction's sales is how this marks a new chapter in the demographic of art collectors. "The auction room suddenly got a lot hipper, with all these cool millennial buyers in hoodies," explained Edie Hu, an art advisory specialist in Hong Kong. "Their tastes are very different from their parents, and Sotheby’s is tapping into that."
The most notable of the pieces purchased was from Brooklyn-based artist and designer KAWS, who channeled inspiration from the 1967 Beatles Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club album cover and replaced the original collage of individuals with Simpsons characters. The piece, titled The KAWS Album, sold for a record $14.8 million, the artist's highest valued piece to date. The artwork sold for 15 times its original estimate.
KAWS, whose name is Brian Donnelly, noted that even he was surprised at how much the piece sold for, writing on Instagram "Do I think my work should sell for this much? No."
In addition to the Simpsons x Beatles hybrid, other pieces in the KIMPSONS SERIES included cans of spray paint and skateboarding shoes, some of which he created in collaboration with Nigo's A Bathing Ape. KAWS also included individual and group portraits of the Simpsons characters with X's marking their eyes.