Tattoo art now hitting the auction block

Tattoo art hitting the auction block

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Tattoo art now hitting the auction block

Tattoos have been around for thousands of years and have become the new normal, but now they are headed into the world of fine art , fetching high prices at Guernsey’s auction house.

Often misunderstood, tattoos have been part of cultural traditions all over the world. Brought stateside by swells of servicemen post-World War II, they came to signify rebellion, a badge of courage and everything in between.

Now tattoos are getting the attention of sophisticated art dealers and auction executives like Arlan Ettinger, president of Guernsey’s auction house, CBS News’ Michelle Miller reports.

"When I came up, the only people who wore tattoos were people who lived on the other side of the tracks or were in the Navy," Ettinger said. "I really wasn’t familiar with the notion of tattoo art on anything other than on the body, but, when I went to view the material for the first time, I saw it, a nice coffee table book featuring the work of one artist." Arlan Ettinger, president of Guernsey’s auction house, said tattoo art like this one may fetch tens of thousands of dollars. That artist was the famous Horiyoshi III. Ettinger then called his office and asked for a copy.

"They said, ‘Which one do you want? There are 10 of them.’ So it makes it very, very clear that there are enormous followings that these people have," Ettinger said.

Over 1,000 pieces of original tattoo art from some of the world’s most prominent tattoo artists are going on the auction block. The eye-catching visuals are painted on canvas, board and paper. The collection belongs to the late fashion designer Peter Mui, who founded the tattoo clothing line Yellowman.

The collection includes works from American traditional artist Bob Roberts, legendary Swiss artist Philip Lou and Horiyoshi III.

"I think this auction is so historic because we’ve never seen this level of interest by both the art world and the general public," said Anna Felicity Friedman, a tattoo historian and […]