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Supreme Items Go on the Auction Block

French auction house Artcurial will sell 150 lots from the label, including rare items ranging from $1,800 box logo t-shirts to $84,000 Louis Vuitton x Supreme trunks.
C.R.E.A.M. by Artcurial | Source: Courtesy
  • Christopher Morency

PARIS, France — Streetwear is invading the rarefied world of art auctions. On May 16, Artcurial — one of France's biggest auction houses — will start the bidding on C.R.E.A.M (Cash Rules Everything Around Me), the world's biggest Supreme auction to date.

The sale, named after Wu-Tang Clan’s 1994 single, sees Artcurial explore 30 years of New York urban culture through the lens of the popular skate label. The auction includes 150 lots ranging from rare Supreme box logo t-shirts reserved for $1,800 to a set of five Supreme x Damien Hirst skate decks reserved for $9,500 and a more recent Louis Vuitton x Supreme Malle Courrier 90 Trunk starting at $84,000.

“The idea of the auction is to paint a landscape of three decades starting in the late 1980s,” says Fabien Naudan, vice chairman of Artcurial, who for the past two years has travelled around the world to secure each individual piece. “The first decade was when street artists, skateboarders and DJ’s were experimenting [with art] without the idea of doing it for money, the next decade was when it became a business and the third one was the final step when it turned into a cash-out decade,” adds Naudan, referring to Supreme’s $500 million sale to private equity firm Carlyle Group in October 2017.

I Shop Therefore I Am by Barbara Kruger, 1990 | Source: Courtesy

The auction won’t be limited to only Supreme apparel and accessories, and will also delve into the references behind the fashion products themselves. Bidders will have the chance to buy rare artworks from among Supreme’s many collaborators, including contemporary artists like Kaws, Takashi Murakami and George Condo.

Highly sought-after everyday items appropriated by Supreme such as logoed motorcycle helmets, basketballs and nunchucks will also be on sale, as will the 1990 “I shop therefore I am” paper shopping bag by American artist Barbara Kruger, whose signature white and red typography was infamously stolen by Supreme for the creation of its own logo.

Naudan said the Supreme auction will help educate buyers about the origins and cultural relevance of the products on sale.

“It’s about telling a story, and that can’t only be defined by art, so I think of sneakers, records, skateboards, fashion and even the humbler objects that tell a lot about this street culture,” explains Naudan.

The Supreme event is a departure for Artcurial; other upcoming auctions offer more typical fare, including pre-Columbian art and art deco furniture. It’s likely to draw a different, younger crowd of bidders — though Naudan said attracting millennials isn’t the point.

“Fashion will have a more important place in the art market in the future for sure, especially when pieces are changing society,” says Naudan. “[And] I think that companies like Supreme have changed society a little bit. Its products are social markers. Today everyone knows what a box logo is.”

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