Rare David Bowie painting bought at rubbish dump for CA$5 expected to fetch thousands at auction

The painting signed and dated 1997 on the back, is part of a series of 47 canvas painting by the late singer. — Picture courtesy of Cowley Abbott
The painting signed and dated 1997 on the back, is part of a series of 47 canvas painting by the late singer. — Picture courtesy of Cowley Abbott

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KUALA LUMPUR, June 18 — Art collectors and David Bowie fans can now bid for a rare painting by the late singer that was found at a rubbish dump in Canada.

Auctioneers said the artwork was bought by an anonymous woman at the entrance of an Ontario landfill donation centre for CA$5 (RM16.75), some 300km north of Toronto, the BBC reported.

The Cowley Abbott auction house in Toronto estimates that the painting will fetch between CA$9,000 and CA$12,000 under the hammer.

The current bid at the time of writing is at CA$50,100 and the next bid is CA$55,100 – interested buyers have until June 24 to bid for the painting.

“The painting itself caught their eye,” auction house president Rob Cowley told CNN.

“They thought it was an interesting painting before they turned it around and saw the labels on the back.”

The 9.75 x 8 inch acrylic and computer collage on canvas painting titled DHead XLVI is signed and dated 1997 on the back.

Experts say the striking signature on the reverse of the artwork belonged to the Starman singer and was verified by a Bowie autograph collector Andy Peters.

The painting titled ‘DHead XLVI’ has a current bid of CA$55,100 and the auction closes on June 24. — Picture courtesy of Cowley Abbott
The painting titled ‘DHead XLVI’ has a current bid of CA$55,100 and the auction closes on June 24. — Picture courtesy of Cowley Abbott

Peters has been collecting Ziggy Stardust’s autographs since 1978 and started offering his expertise after the singer’s passing in 2016.

Bowie, a passionate collector and painter who studied art and design as a young man, created the work as part of a series of 47 canvas paintings which he called Dead Heads.

Each work in the collection, which also includes Bowie’s self-portraits, bears a “DHead” label followed by Roman numerals.

Art auctioneers added that the subject of the painting may never be known but what is known is, Bowie’s friends, bandmates and acquaintances sat for the series.

Describing the work as a “semi-abstract portrait”, Cowley told the Canadian Broadcast Corporation “it’s a figure who is in side profile” with a face that lacks distinguishing features.

The figure in the painting has longish hair that falls down the side, reminiscent of hairstyles that were popular in the ‘60s and ‘70s.

“The figure is dressed in a teal colour, and their hair has touches of teal as well as some dark red.

“And there’s kind of a light red background, almost like a crimson background, as well,” Cowley said.

Find out more about the painting here.

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