Legendary SUPERMAN artist AL PLASTINO, 91, is more than livid that his “masterpiece” the original art for “Superman’s Mission For President Kennedy” reputed for the past 50 years to be enshrined at the Kennedy Library is up for auction with a minimum bid of $20,000 per page!
Heritage Auctions based out of Dallas (no less) have put up for auction the original artwork that Plastino drew for Superman #170, which featured a memorial tribute to President John Kennedy published shortly after his assassination fifty years ago.
It had intended to be a follow-up to Action Comics 390 “The Superman Super Spectacular” where JFK doubled as Clark Kent to help prevent Lois Lane from discovering the Man of Steel’s true identity. The story was pulled from publication schedule after the shocking events of November 22, 1963.
In a New York Times article, re-printed in the DC Superman family magazines, the Times said the original Curt Swan artwork of the "preview" of the physical fitness yarn would be donated to his widow, Jackie.
But in the wake of the tragedy, President Lyndon Johnson asked the story run in print as a tribute to the slain leader’s physical fitness program. Plastino's emotional tribute, which, many consider to be his finest work, saw print in Superman #170.
The story's final caption states, "The original art for this story will be donated to the John F. Kennedy Memorial Library, at Harvard University."
After making an appearance at the recent New York Comic-con with Hero’s Initiative, Al Plastino was shown the JFK story pages and then posted his horror on Facebook: “Please help if you can. The art I donated and thought for all these years was being housed at the Kennedy library at Harvard is now being auctioned off on the anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination. And now I am finding out that the art may have never made it to the library. The archivists tell me there are no records of it ever being received. I asked for the art back and they will not give it to me. I asked for the consigner’s name and they will not tell me that either. They tell me I have no rights to my work and that it is too late to get it back.”
An Intellectual Property specialist, who wished to remain anonymous told the ENQUIRER that Plastino’s case is "a tough one to call depending on when it was taken OR given away, he may not have any ownership rights.” AND yet . . .
“This art was sold in the 1993 Sotheby’s comic auction, so it has been in collectors’ hands at least since that time,” Steve Borock, the Senior Consignment Director for Heritage told Bleeding Cool.com.
“We have no reason to believe our consignor (One we have known for many years and who has an excellent track record with us) does not have the right to sell the piece, and nobody has shown us any evidence that he doesn’t. Whether it was ever in possession of a museum we don’t know, but as many collectors know, museums de-accession pieces all the time.'
But "Not the Kennedy Library", a source close to the situation told The ENQUIRER.
As The ENQUIRER previously reported in 2011, Heritage Auctions was involved in an FBI investigation involving the theft of Jackie Kennedy’s personal letters that she had written to Ethel Kennedy after the murder of her husband, Robert F. Kennedy. The FBI seized the letters until a federal judge could determine ownership.
Meanwhile, the Plastino Family has been working with archivists at the Kennedy library to determine the paper trail of whether or not they ever received the artwork from then- Superman editor Mort Wesinger.
All Al Plastino knows is that his loving tribute should be where it’s supposed to be – in the Kennedy Memorial Library as a significant cultural interpretation of Camelot – embodying all that is “Truth, Justice and the American Way.”
“The auction (closes) Nov 21. The art will be auctioned off on the anniversary of Kennedy's assassination. How awful is THAT,” Plastino later posted.
UPDATE 3:56 PM: The ENQUIRER has just received this Statement from NOAH FLEISHER, HERITAGE AUCTIONS spokesperson : “Our consignor purchased the JFK story at auction from Sotheby’s in 1993, and still has the invoice. In fairness to everyone though, we have withdrawn the art from our November 22 auction while Mr. Plastino’s claim is being investigated.”