Russell Watercolor Sells For $550,000 At Auction

GREAT FALLS, MONT. (AP) — A watercolor by famed Western artist C.M. Russell sold for $550,000 at an auction that benefits the nonprofit C.M. Russell Museum in Great Falls.

The watercolor titled “High, Wide and Handsome’’ sold at the low end of estimate at the auction on March 23, The Great Falls Tribune reported.

A letter written by Russell that also contained a watercolor sold for $300,000. An oil on canvas painted by Andy Thomas depicting Russell finishing a painting, called “Russell Paints a Masterpiece,’’ sold for $200,000. That more than doubled the $85,000 estimate.

The auction is part of Western Art Week, held the same month as the birthday of Russell, who was born March 19, 1864. The auction raised more than $3.1 million, slightly more than last year.

“I think it was a smashing success,’’ said C.M. Russell Museum board chairman Joe Masterson. “The whole weekend was a tremendous success. It exceeded our expectations.’’

The $550,000 paid for one work of art topped last year’s high mark of $375,000, which is what two Russell watercolors brought in separately.

A modern artist, R. Tom Gilleon, had a 50-by-50-inch oil painting titled “Hair Apparent” he hoped would break $25,000. It ended up selling for $225,000, the most a painting of his has ever fetched.

“I had absolutely no idea there was that much interest [in the painting],” said Gilleon.

“That’s why we have auctions,’’ said auctioneer Troy Black.

Mark Tarrant, Gilleon’s gallery representative, said, “Collectors love art and recognize it is an asset class. It’s a good place to put their money.”

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