David Bowie – 1978 Signed & Numbered “Heroes” Self-Portrait Lithograph, #16/120

An extremely rare David Bowie signed and numbered self-portrait lithograph, produced as a limited edition by RCA Records in 1978.  Measuring 18” x 24 3/4”, the lithograph is beautifully printed on thick textured off-white fine art paper, and is signed and numbered 16/120 in red ink by David Bowie.

This lithograph marks the first appearance of Bowie’s self-portrait based on his Heroes album cover.  The image proved very popular, and was later used on concert posters, handbills, t-shirts, press kits, and even reprinted in the 1990’s by Bowie’s latter day label, Ryko (in a much smaller 8” x 10” format).

We obtained this directly from Ron Ross, Bowie’s former product manager at RCA, who describes its origins in his accompanying letter of authenticity:

To Whom It May Concern:

This letter is to authenticate a signed and numbered self-portrait lithograph by David Bowie.  From May 1975 to May 1979 I was David Bowie’s product manager at RCA Records, responsible for all of his advertising and retail merchandising material.   

In 1978 Bowie’s manager gave me Bowie’s original drawing and I built a retail contest around it.  I had lithographs made from the drawing, and Bowie signed 120 of these to use as contest prizes.  Key record retailers in major Bowie tour markets were solicited for orders of his catalog of albums, and given unsigned copies of the lithograph to display.  Customers entered the contest at each of the participating stores, and a winner from each store received a signed and numbered lithograph.

This is one of a very few extra signed lithographs I kept after the contest, which I have had in my collection since 1978.  It is number 16 of 120.  Sincerely, Ron Ross.

Ross estimated approximately 275 lithographs were made, with Bowie signing 120 for use as contest prizes, and the remainder used for in-store displays to promote the contest.  Ironically, Bowie used a thin red marker to sign and number the 120 copies in the limited edition, and nearly every example we’ve seen has faded dramatically, with the signature on many virtually unreadable (fading shouldn’t be a problem if this is framed behind (fading shouldn’t be a problem if this is framed behind UV filtering plexiglass or glass, and hung in an area not exposed to direct light).

Happily the number and signature on this example are bold and unfaded, having been archivally stored by Ron Ross since 1978, and never exposed to light or displayed.  In virtually mint condition, with just a tiny bump to the bottom left corner.  With Ron Ross’s letter of authenticity and Recordmecca’s written lifetime guarantee of authenticity.

(We have a few unsigned copies of this lithograph, available here).

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