Today Sotheby announced that is will auction DC Complete: The Ian Levine Collection, a comic book collection that includes every comic book published by DC Comics from 1935 through 2016, including complete runs of Superman, Batman, Action Comics, and Detective Comics. The collection includes more than 40,000 comics that also feature Wonder Woman, The Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman, and the Justice League. The collection is available to view now on the Sotheby's website. Sotheby's chose today to start the private sale as it marks the 81st anniversary of the release of Detective Comics #27, which included the first appearance of Batman.
Richard Austin, Head of Sotheby's Books & Manuscripts Department in New York, said in a press release, "The Ian Levine Collection is the holy grail for comics collectors. Amassed over decades of hunting, Levine's collection embodies the passion and fandom that has defined comics culture for generations, which today is best encapsulated not through printed issues but popular superhero films that regularly break box office records. Featuring some of the most valuable individual books as well as extremely rare promotional issues, the Levine Collection includes all the DC heroes that are among the most recognizable and versatile pop culture touchstones in the world."
Levine is a DJ and producer credited with helping to popularize the Northern Soul movement. He's also one of the originators of Hi-NRG music. He first discovered DC when he began reading Justice League of America when he was eight-years-old in 1960. When he discovered the existence of comic book stores in 1972, Levine set about on his mission to track down out of print issues and discontinued titles. The search continued for half a century.
For 10 years, Levine purchased a new copy of every DC issue he could find while continuing to try to fill in the gaps of his back issue collection. This proved difficult in the pre-internet age and in 1987 Levine sold a significant portion of his collection to fund his collection of Northern Soul records and Doctor Who film prints. He later bought back those issues from the same dealer and came to own roughly half of the comics DC had ever published.
At that point, Levine decided to commit to forming a complete DC Comics collection. He sold off his collection of Northern Soul records and Doctor Who prints to purchase the other half of DC's catalog that he was missing. In 2010, Levine's collection was used for the illustrations in the publication 75 Years of DC Comics: The Art of Modern Mythmaking by Paul Levitz, former president and publisher of DC.