Jean-Paul Casterman was seven years old when he received a piece of paper with a drawing on it. The child folded the small watercolor of a youngster and his dog hiding from a dragon in a gigantic Chinese vase and put it in a drawer, where it languished for decades.
The man who gave little Jean-Paul the gift was none other than Georges Remi, better known as Herge. The boy's father, Louis Casterman, headed the publishing house that published the Belgian illustrator's world-famous comics about the adventures of a young reporter called Tintin and his dog, Snowy.
This story was described by the Parisian auction house Artcurial while selling that folded piece of paper and creating a record. That rare painting of Tintin by Hergé sold for a record $3.9 million on Thursday.
The painting was sold online and was expected to sell for between $2.7 million and $3.4 million, but ultimately went for $3.9 million including fees -- a world auction record both for a work by Hergé and for an original comic strip work.
Thursday's sale breaks the previous record for the sale of comic book art set by another Hergé artwork in 2014. The two-page illustration, which dated back to 1937, sold for $3.2m including fees.
The 1936 illustration, intended for the cover of Hergé's fifth Tintin book, "The Blue Lotus," shows the young hero hiding with his dog, Snowy, in porcelain jar. It was painted with gouache, ink and watercolor.
It was eventually rejected as a cover because it would have been too expensive to reproduce, the auction house said in a press release ahead of the sale.
The Blue Lotus was first published in 1936 and sees Tintin travel to China during the 1931 Japanese invasion.
A report of CNN also mentioned, the painting was also inspired by Hergé's friend Chong, whom he met in 1935 in Brussels. Chong described his native China, which influenced the story and the artwork of 'The Blue Lotus'.
Hergé, whose real name was Georges Remi, created the character of Tintin in the 1920s.
The tales have been translated into dozens of languages, and adapted for radio, television, film, theater and video games.
Despite their huge popularity, Tintin's adventures have also been the subject of controversy. During World War II, Hergé published Tintin strips in a Belgian newspaper allied with the Nazi regime.
And "Tintin in the Congo," published in serial form in 1930-1931, took the boy reporter to Belgium's then colony and depicted the African natives as inferior beings in need of civilization.