American artist Brian Donnelly (b. 1974), or Kaws as he is known in the art world, is currently a moneymaking sensation at auctions. His work, which is often inspired by popular animated and children’s characters, has reached outrageous prices in some markets, most recently in Hong Kong.
On April 1, an auction held at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong brought in $28 million from collectors particularly interested in Kaws’ artwork inspired by The Simpsons. His auction record was broken with the sale of his 2005 piece “The KAWS Album,” which sold for a whopping $14.8 million (HK$115.9 million), when the estimate was between $750,000 to $1 million.
The painting depicts characters from the show with Kaws’ signature X’s for eyes in a parody of a parody. Kaws re-invented the cover for The Simpsons’ The Yellow Album, a 1998 collection of original songs sung by the characters, which was in turn reinterpreting The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover. Japanese designer and collector Nigo, who sold the piece through Sotheby’s, commissioned the piece in 2005.