July 26-27, 2013
Peppermill Resort Spa Casino, Reno, NV
This story was featured in the July 2013 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Order the Southwest Art July 2013 print issue, or get the Southwest Art July 2013 digital download now…Or better yet, just subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss a story!
When serious sellers and buyers of art bypass the big-name international auction houses for a once-a-year, two-day show and sale, you know you’re dealing with an event to which only the highest superlatives apply. That’s certainly the case for western-themed art and the Coeur d’Alene Art Auction, now in its 27th year. “We’ve always been known as the market leaders for early historic western paintings, especially from the real blue-chip artists like Charles M. Russell and Frederic Remington,” explains Mike Overby, who manages the business in concert with partners Stuart Johnson, of Settlers West Galleries in Tucson, and Peter Stremmel, auctioneer and owner of Reno’s Stremmel Gallery.
On the last Friday of this month, some 800 western-art aficionados flock to an exhibition space within the luxurious Peppermill Resort in Reno to view the 300-plus artworks up for sale and enjoy a lavish cocktail party. “You’ll see everyone from hedge-fund titans to movie stars to rodeo riders,” says Overby. The next day brings morning viewing hours and the auction itself at noon. “We take each painting right off the wall and march it up onto the stage. It’s like being in a museum where everything is for sale.”
And what a museum! This year features about a dozen works by Russell, including THE SCOUTING PARTY, a major oil painting expected to fetch between $2 million and $3 million. One bronze and one gouache by Remington are also featured, with casting number 7 of THE BRONCHO BUSTER estimated at $600,000 to $900,000.
Also included each year are select present-day artists whose works are considered museum-quality and of lasting value, including Howard Terpning and James Bama. “This year, we have a very, very important painting of Terpning’s,” Overby says. TELLING OF LEGENDS, a 32-by-52-inch oil of a Blackfoot chief recounting tribal stories to a young brave, is expected to sell between $600,000 and $900,000. “But it should go through the roof. It’s always interesting to me to see a contemporary artist knocking on the price range of Remington and Russell,” he says.
This year’s most eagerly anticipated lot, however, is not strictly a western painting, although it taps into the audience’s overriding passion for realist works with a strong American ethos. A SCOUT IS LOYAL, a 39-by-27-inch oil by Norman Rockwell, was painted in 1942 as one in a lengthy series of works he executed to illustrate calendars released by the Boy Scouts of America. Depicting a solemn Scout flanked by stirring images of Washington, Lincoln, and a bald eagle, it’s the show’s hands-down “headliner,” says Overby, who anticipates a selling price of between $4 million and $6 million.
Amounts like that add up impressively, with the Coeur d’Alene Art Auction having netted its clients more than $225 million over the last decade. Yet, adds Overby, “We’re known for our fairly conservative estimates and reserves, which result in an average sell-through rate of 95 percent, the highest in the industry by a long shot.” Nonetheless, collectors of more conservative means needn’t shy away. “You could probably come and buy a painting here for just $10,000, too,” Overby concludes. “The Coeur d’Alene Art Auction has got something for everybody.” —Norman Kolpas
Featured in the July 2013 issue of Southwest Art magazine–click below to purchase:
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Southwest Art July 2013 print issue
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