Great Falls, MT
After two days, four auctions and hundreds of works of Western art that were sold to bidders, The Russell: An Exhibition and Sale to Benefit the C.M. Russell Museum racked up more than $5.1 million in sales.
A number of artists, both historic and contemporary, performed remarkably well during this year’s 50th annual event, but once again Charles M. Russell was the star. Not only did Russell works account for eight of the top 10 lots as well as a combined auction total of $3.2 million across a dozen works, the cowboy artist also achieved the top lot with Buffalo Hunt #17, which sold for $1,425,000.
Other top lots included two bronzes—the rare Spirit of Winter (est. $400/600,000) that sold for $380,250 and A Bronc Twister (est. $250/350,000) that sold for $321,750—and a variety of other works, including several watercolors, gouaches and a collection of silvercast miniature sculptures. Another standout Russell work is Just as Everything is Turning Black, I Hear Bed Rock’s Winchester from 1899. The dramatic scene, showing a bear attack on a rocky outcropping, was estimated at $200,000 to $300,000. It fell within estimates when it sold for $222,300. Other strong historic works included Joseph Henry Sharp’s Crow Camp (est. $80/120,000) that sold for $87,750 and Eanger Irving Couse’s Fireside Indian (est. $50/75,000) that sold for $76,050.
Living artists with notable sales include Jeremy Winborg, whose 48-inch tall painting Highcaliber, featuring a Native American figure standing with a rifle at her side, sold for $52,650, well over its $9,200 high estimate. The piece set a new artist world record for the Utah painter. Other pieces include Andy Thomas’ Mark Twain Nevada (est. $48/60,000) selling at $52,650, and Oleg Stavrowsky’s Most Important Passenger (est. $50/75,000) selling at $55,575. Russell Skull Society artist Chad Poppleton did well with a painting of Russell, The Vision: Charles Marion Russell, that sold for $35,100, clearing a $25,000 high estimate
While more than $4.6 million was realized from The Russell Live sale, other events related to the annual event also drew in significant sums: the fashion-themed Russell Runway
Show pulled in more than $10,000, the First Strike Friday Night Auction brought in more than $345,000, and the Art in Action quickdraw event realized more than $131,000. Proceeds from all the events go directly into programming and education at Great Falls’ C.M. Russell Museum.
“We were thrilled with the success of the event this year. There seemed to be an extra spark in the air as spirits were high in celebration of the 50th Russell auction to benefit the museum,” says Duane Braaten, director of art and philanthropy at the museum. “We had a great time honoring the remarkable history of this special March event, and the bidders, artists and Western art lovers in the capacity crowds also got a great start in creating highlights and memories for the next halfcentury.”
Charles M. Russell’s Buffalo Hunt #17 is presented to bidders during The Russell Live. The piece sold for $1,425,000. Bidders watch The Russell Live on March 17 in Great Falls, Montana.
Charles M. Russell (1864-1926), Spirit of Winter, cast ca. 1926, bronze, 101/8 x 101/8 x 6” Estimate: $400/600,000 SOLD: $380,250