Published: August 22, 2017
DALLAS — The descendents of umpire John “Beans” Reardon always thought the picture they had hanging on their Austin, Texas, wall was just a print of Norman Rockwell’s famous 1949 Saturday Evening Post cover, “Tough Call.” But when the experts at Heritage Auctions inspected it, they realized the work, signed “My best wishes to ‘Beans’ Reardon, the greatest umpire ever lived, Sincerely, Norma Rockwell,” was much more than a simple print of the famous work. Close inspection showed the “print” was an original oil on paper study for one of Rockwell’s most famous paintings. And, when the final call came at Heritage Auctions’ August 19-20 Platinum night sports auction, the study that was expected to sell for around $300,000 sold for $1,680,000 with premium, breaking the record for any Rockwell study.
The buyer remains anonymous at this time.
“It is remarkable to still discover such an important Norman Rockwell original artwork after so many years,” said Chris Ivy, director of sports memorabilia at Heritage Auctions. “I need to credit my colleagues in the art division for the assist on this one,” Ivy said, and “the art community and sports fans all over the world owe thanks to Beans Reardon’s family for preserving this piece of Americana for future generations despite not quite understanding what they had.”
This is the second Rockwell study sold by Heritage recently, as Rockwell’s study for “Triple Self Portrait” commanded over $1.3 million just months ago, itself more than tripling any previous record for a Rockwell study.
A full review of the $10.7 million Platinum night sports auction will appear in a future issue. For further information, www.ha.com or 877-437-4824.
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