Wayne Thiebaud Value: Top Prices Paid At Auction

Dark Cake by Wayne Thiebaud - MyArtBroker Dark Cake © Wayne Thiebaud 1983
Leah Mentzis

Leah Mentzis, Partnerships Manager[email protected]

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Wayne Thiebaud

Wayne Thiebaud

68 works

Wayne Thiebaud, celebrated for his iconic 1960s artworks, maintains enduring allure among collectors spanning his entire career. Regardless of subject matter, his pieces exude unmistakable Thiebaud charm. Found in esteemed private collections like the Paul G. Allen and Thomas and Doris Amann Collections, his art, epitomised by Two Jackpots (2005), broke auction records twice within two years, illustrating sustained interest and demand in his market. Represented initially by the Allen Stone Gallery and later Aquavella, Thiebaud's delightful creations have consistently fetched millions in the secondary market, showcasing a notable growth trajectory since 2017.

£15.2M for Four Pinball Machines

($19,135,000 USD)

Four Pinball Machines by Wayne Thiebaud - Christie's Image © Christie's / Four Pinball Machines © Wayne Thiebaud 1962

Thiebaud's Four Pinball Machines (1962) attained his highest auction mark. As one of only four pinball-themed works created, this painting stands as the largest rendition, representing Thiebaud's early career in the 1960s. Remaining in private hands until 1981, real estate tycoon Donald Bren acquired it for just $143,000 USD. Evoking American nostalgia, it captures childhood joy and arcade memories, showcasing Thiebaud's meticulous skill in depicting intricate pinball mazes. His realist pop art style aligns him with luminaries like Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, rendering his '60s works highly coveted among collectors. This masterpiece fetched a staggering £15.1 million (with fees) at Christie's in July 2020, marking an astounding increase from its initial sale price.

£11.9M for Candy Counter

($14,697,000 USD)

Candy Counter by Wayne Thiebaud - Sotheby's Image © Sotheby's / Candy Counter © Wayne Thiebaud 1969

Crafted in 1969, Candy Counter epitomises Thiebaud's timeless allure, invoking nostalgic sentiments. This work captivates with its simplicity, portraying marzipan, candy apples, and vibrant hard candy, offering a delightful experience. Thiebaud's adept use of light and paint breathes vitality into childhood fairground treats, expertly blending abstraction with detailed precision, creating spatial depth. Despite economic challenges, Candy Counter fetched an impressive £11.8 million (with fees) at Sotheby's in May 2023, reaffirming the enduring appeal and value of exceptional artworks.

£8.9M for Star Pinball

($11,335,000 USD)

Star Pinball by Wayne Thiebaud - Christie's Image © Christie's / Star Pinball © Wayne Thiebaud 1962

Featured in the May 2024 New York sales, Christie's showcased Thiebaud's Star Pinball (1962) as one of its standout lots in the 20th-century sale. This marked the first appearance of a Thiebaud Pinball machine at auction since his record-breaking sale in 2020. Against a vibrant yellow backdrop, Thiebaud's unmistakable aesthetic shines through, characterised by meticulous attention to detail and precise geometries. His adeptness at capturing shadows adds depth to the painting. Realising £8.9 million with fees, the artwork achieved a price well within the estimated range, cementing its position as one of Thiebaud's highest valued works on the secondary market.

£8.5M for Encased Cakes

($79,200,000 HKD)

Encassed Cakes by Wayne Thiebaud - Sotheby's Image © Sotheby's / Encased Cakes © Wayne Thiebaud 2010 - 2011

Encased Cakes (2010-2011) epitomises Thiebaud's lasting resonance in the art world. Despite its creation decades after his renowned period, the painting recalls the nostalgic imagery of his iconic works from the 1960s, evoking a sense of culinary delight and aesthetic appeal. In 2019, this modern masterpiece set an auction record for Thiebaud, fetching over £6.5 million with fees. Remarkably, it resurfaced two years later at Poly Auction in Hong Kong, selling for £8.5 million with fees, marking Thiebaud's auction record for the second time with the same work highlighting his international appeal and market demand.

£7.6M for Dessert Table

($9,380,000 USD)

Dessert Table by Wayne Thiebaud - Christie's Image © Christie's / Dessert Table © Wayne Thiebaud 1996

Crafted during the later phase of Thiebaud's career in the 1990s, Dessert Table (1996) reflects a period of experimentation where Thiebaud explored various subjects, including confectionery treats, aerial landscapes of the San Francisco Valley, guitars, books, and sunglasses. Despite the diverse themes explored, the enduring popularity of sweets is evident in this sale, as Dessert Table became the highest valued painting from the 1990s to be sold on the secondary market. Presented at Christie's November sales in New York, the artwork fetched £7.6 million with fees, reaffirming Thiebaud's timeless appeal of his delectable imagery.

£7.0M for Winding River

($9,809,000 USD)

Winding River by Wayne Thiebaud - Phillips Image © Phillips / Winding River © Wayne Thiebaud 2002

During the 1990s, Thiebaud turned his attention to capturing the meandering rivers of the Sacramento River Delta, inspired by his hikes and explorations offering diverse perspectives of the landscape. These artworks draw inevitable comparisons to David Hockney's 1980s landscapes, yet Thiebaud's distinct technique shines through his masterful colour blending, placing the winding river at the heart of the canvas. Winding River (2002), illustrating panoramic vistas with pastel hues sold for just over £7 million (with fees) at Phillips in June 2021, showcasing Thiebaud's versatility to subject matter and demand in the art market.

£6.0M for Towleing Off

($8,489,500 USD)

Toweling Off by Wayne Thiebaud - Christie's Image © Christie's / Toweling Off © Wayne Thiebaud 1968

Thiebaud's artistic versatility extends across landscapes, figures, and still lifes, each highly coveted in its own regard, blurring traditional hierarchies. Toweling Off (1968) represents a pinnacle period of his career, showcasing his mature style. While his pop art associated style remains iconic, Thiebaud's ability to command high prices across genres sets him apart. In his figurative works, he skilfully captures live models, employing his signature pastel palette to create mesmerising plays of light. Toweling Off, exemplifying his mastery, fetched just over £6 million at Christie's in May 2021.

£5.3M for Café Cart

($6,060,000 USD)

Café Cart by Wayne Thiebaud - Christie's Image © Christie's / Café Cart © Wayne Thiebaud 2012

In Café Cart (2012), Thiebaud presents a tantalising variation of his iconic culinary scenes. Departing from the traditional deli counter, he elevates the scene with an aura of luxury, displaying an array of delectable cakes, pies, and tarts on a pristine white cart. Thiebaud's adept compositions seamlessly blend two and three-dimensional elements, infusing the piece with the essence of pop and modern art, and items of luxury. Originally showcased at Aquavella Galleries in 2012 ten years late Christie's auctioned this work in 2022 from the esteemed Paul G. Allen collection. The work fetched an impressive £5.3 million (with fees), underscoring Thiebaud's enduring artistic resonance.

£4.1M for Eating Figures (Quick Snack)

($5,269,000 USD)

Eating Figures (Quick Snack) by Wayne Thiebaud - Christie's Image © Christie's / Eating Figures (Quick Snack) © Wayne Thiebaud 1963

Thiebaud's Eating Figures (Quick Snack) (1963) demonstrates his prowess in figure painting, emerging after a successful solo show at the Allan Stone Gallery. Artistically daring, Thiebaud skillfully captures the human form, blending pop and modern art elements with playful creativity. The figures' detachment invites a voyeuristic view, reminiscent of 20th-century American Modernism, echoing Edward Hopper's subdued scenes. Reflecting quintessential American culture, the imagery features 1960s fashion, diner car stools, and classic American fare. Thiebaud's distinct oeuvre shines through the chosen colour palette, notably in soft drink cups and the woman's white shoes. This unique work fetched over £4 million (with fees) at Christie's in May 2019, landing among his top-selling pieces.

£4.0M for Two Jackpots

($6,325,000 USD)

Two Jackpots by Wayne Thiebaud - Christie's Image © Christie's / Two Jackpots © Wayne Thiebaud 2005

Thiebaud's Two Jackpots (2005) finds inspiration in the vibrant world of Lake Tahoe's slot machines, blending his artistic finesse with the allure of gambling culture. Seamlessly merging the Nevada border's thrill with California's scenic beauty, Thiebaud encapsulates a palpable energy in this still-life marvel. With meticulous detail, he animates the frozen moments, vividly depicting the symbols and motifs adorning each slot column. Pulsating with the inherent excitement and suspense of slot machines, this work resulted in a significant sale of £3.9 million (with fees) at Christie's in November 2013.