Judging the conditions for acquiring a famous Asterix and Cleopatra board to be doubtful, the daughter of designer Albert Uderzo filed a complaint to prevent the sale, her lawyer said on Saturday, December 2. The original album cover design was to be put up for sale in Brussels on December 10 by the Millon auction house.

The value of this 32 x 17 cm gouache, dating from 1963, is estimated at 400,000 to 500,000 euros. It is being sold by an individual who claims to have had it for “more than fifty years”. Uderzo had offered it “during a dinner with friends,” Millon said at the end of November in a press release. The complaint was filed for concealment of breach of trust or theft.

“The objective is in the short term to prevent the sale, in any case to have time to shed as much light as possible on the circumstances of the possession of this board and perhaps even to recover it, in the long term,” explained Orly Rezlan, lawyer for Sylvie Uderzo, confirming information from the daily Le Figaro.

The lawyer recalls that Albert Uderzo used to autograph the boards he offered, but this one is not. According to her, Sylvie Uderzo and her mother were informed by the auction house of the sale, with “a narrative” which “seemed quite vague” on the conditions of obtaining the work by the seller’s father.

“We are sure of our rights”

Arnaud de Partz, general manager of Millon Belgium, said he had been informed of the complaint without having yet received it. He acknowledges that the sale is now “uncertain”. According to him, the drawing was indeed given by Albert Uderzo to a friend, whose son now wants to sell it.

“There are a lot of boards that were donated and have not been autographed,” says Arnaud de Partz, who explains that at the time these originals had “no value.” “We are sure of our rights. We have all the history. We have a photo [of the seller’s father] with Uderzo, it is certain that they knew each other,” he added.

Huge success in cinema, with nearly twenty-five million admissions worldwide for Asterix and Obelix: Mission Cleopatra (2002), the adventures of the Gaul in Egypt were firstly a comic book album.

The album cover design is a parody of the poster for the 1963 Hollywood production Cleopatra, at the time the most expensive film in history. Uderzo’s Cleopatra strikes the same pose as Elizabeth Taylor; Asterix replaces Julius Caesar played by Rex Harrison; and Obélix, Marc Antoine, played by Richard Burton.