Before he died in 2018, the legendary Marvel comic book writer and publisher Stan Lee teamed up with pop culture painter Rob Prior for a unique series of portraits. The two collaborated on a series of canvas paintings recreating famous comic book covers, with Lee taking the place of the superheroes he helped create.
“He loved cameos, that was his thing. So much so that when I finished 20, it wasn't enough, because he kept coming up with covers,” Prior says of the collection, which eventually reached 95 works (the same as Lee’s age when he died). Now, with the view of finally releasing the images to the public, Prior is auctioning a selection of 10 of the paintings as NFTs, with winning bidders receiving not only the digital work, but the physical copy as well, signed by Lee.
The Legacy Collection: Portraits of Stan Lee goes on sale on the Mogul platform, on Wednesday, 27 October, staring at 5 pm PST, and runs for 48 hours. Prior hopes that the sale will lead to a gallery show where he can display the full series, which recreate classic covers by artist such as Jack Kirby and Frank Miller, but with Lee’s smiling face replacing characters such as Wolverine and Iron Man. Prior showed a few of the paintings at Lee’s memorial service, but the NFT sale will be the first time this many will be publicly shared.
Since the buyers of the works will also receive the originals, they can decide if they would like to loan the works for any future exhibitions—anonymously if necessary.
“It's a slightly different emotional experience when you actually touch the work and you can be right there in the room with it. So that's why I didn't want to separate them,” Prior says of the decision to tie the physical work to the NFT—rather than burn the original as he has done with past NFTs. “What [the new owners] want to do with it at the end of the day is up to them.”