Photo credit: Nate D. Sanders
Warning: This story contains an image and language that some may find offensive.
What if the work of one of the most popular children's authors in American history was auctioned, but no one bid?
That's the situation one auction house was faced with when it attempted to lure bidders to a 1929 drawing of Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss. The work of art produced no bidders when it closed on May 28. (Tweet This)
''Cross-Section of The World's Most Prosperous Department Store," had a minimum bid of $20,000 and was offered by Nate D. Sanders. Yet it is noteworthy mainly because of the racial epithet that appears on the illustration.
For those unfamiliar with Dr. Seuss' early works, which sometimes featured political and racist content, "Cross-Section" can be shocking. Seuss was a liberal Democrat revered for his childhood works like "How the Grinch Stole Christmas!" and "The Cat in the Hat," but his early work often painted blacks and other ethnic groups in unflattering and outright racist terms.
In the "Cross-Section" painting, a group of men can be seen shopping in a department store for objects that can make their lives difficult. The last image shows several African Americans in black face and disproportionate red lips, and displays the N-word prominently.
The ''Cross-Section of The World's Most Prosperous Department Store," is now on sale for $20,000 on the website of Nate D. Sanders, the memorabilia dealer that tried to auction the Seuss work. The drawing previously belonged to a private collector, the firm told CNBC.
"It just needs the right buyer," said Nate D. Sanders' P.R. director, Sam Heller. "There is definitely a market for that."
Heller said if not acquired by a collector, the drawing could be acquired by an institution such as The University of California, San Diego's library, which has a large collection of Dr. Seuss' early works.