Last week, in anticipation of upcoming auctions of American art at Sotheby's and Christie's, I and other readers of this blog helpfully offered suggestions to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art on what we'd like to see them pick up. Though Alice Walton, who is bankrolling the museum, seems to be more interested in post-modern art these days, maybe she still haunts these auctions of earlier American masters.
When Walton does buy at auction, we've observed, she often bids far more than the expected sale price put on the work by auction house. So does this mean that she bought at Christie's, just for us, the Everett Shinn we mentioned last week? "Snowstorm on Broadway," a little gouache and watercolor (9 and a half inches by 13 and a half inches), painted in 1909, sold for $266,000 — far more than the $70,000 to $90,000 estimate.
Using the same logic, we wonder if she bought, at Sotheby's competing American auction yesterday, another painting we thought would be a good fit with the museum, Norman Rockwell's study for "The Problem We All Live With." The oil sketch is of Ruby Bridges being escorted to public school in New Orleans by four federal marshals in 1960. Sotheby's estimate for the sketch: $150,000 to $250,000. Purchase price (including hammer): $854,500.
Sadly, two paintings I was pulling for, John Marin's "Castorland" and Louis Ritman's "Lady by a Window," were pulled from the auctions.
"Pink Nude" by Milton Avery, a favorite of stvj's, went for $80,000, in the middle of its estimated range. Rfg55's Wyeth, "Shredded Wheat," was sold for $74,500.