ARTnewsletter Archive

Western Art Climbs (Again) to a Record High at Reno Auction

The annual auction of Western art held by Coeur d’Alene Art Auction in Reno, Nev., set another consecutive record on July 30, when the sale of 275 lots fetched $21 million. All but three lots found buyers at the auction, and these were sold immediately after, reports Coeur d’Alene partner and auctioneer Peter Stremmel.

NEW YORK—The annual auction of Western art held by Coeur d’Alene Art Auction in Reno, Nev., set another consecutive record on July 30, when the sale of 275 lots fetched $21 million. All but three lots found buyers at the auction, and these were sold immediately after, reports Coeur d’Alene partner and auctioneer Peter Stremmel.

The total well surpasses the $18.1 million achieved last year and more than doubles the $10 million total of 2003. Stremmel notes that approximately 18 new records were set for such artists as Maynard Dixon, Frank Tenney Johnson and Charles M. Russell.

“There was a lot of energy and activity in the crowd of nearly 700 bidders and onlookers, as well as so many new faces in the crowd,” Stremmel told ARTnewsletter, adding that the sale seems to get bigger and more crowded every year.

Russell’s 1918 oil-on-canvas Piegans, depicting Native Americans on horseback traveling across a wide prairie, took the top price of the sale at $5.6 million (estimate: $3/5 million)—more than doubling the previous $2.3 million record for Russell’s 1908 watercolor A Disputed Trail that also was sold at Coeur d’Alene, in 2001 (see ANL, 9/18/01).

Dixon’s 1917 oil Story Tellers, a ceremonial depiction of members of the Blackfeet Indian tribe, sold for a record $1.68 million, well above the estimate of $600,000/800,000. The painting had originally been commissioned by the Great Northern Railway. The previous record for Dixon was the $1.3 million paid at Christie’s Los Angeles in 2000 for the 1920 oil The Pony Boy (estimate: $500,000/700,000).

Johnson’s 1930 oil Journey’s End, a dark-hued night scene of horses outside a pueblo, brought a record $392,000 (estimate: $200,000/300,000). The painting had formerly been owned by the Dallas-based Exchange Bank and Trust.

Other highlights included Benton Clark’s Morning Catch, 1927, which jumped to $84,000 against an estimate of $10,000/20,000, while Sydney Laurence’s An August Afternoon, Mt. McKinley, brought $224,000 (estimate: $80,000/120,000). Stremmel says most of the buying was done by private collectors or by dealers bidding for private collectors.

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