Would You Spend Almost $10M For a Bob Ross Painting?

This is not a rhetorical question, by the way

Bob Ross
Bob Ross, paintbrush in hand.
Acey Harper/Getty Images

The late Bob Ross may not have been the most critically acclaimed artist of his generation, but it is safe to say that he’s one of the best-known. Hosting a popular television series dedicated to the craft of painting will do that, and Ross’s The Joy of Painting absolutely fits that definition. And Ross’s comments about the pleasure that comes from the act of creating art are quietly radical — lining up with everyone from Brian Eno to Banksy.

You might think, based on that, that there would be something of a market for Ross’s paintings — he did, after all, paint hundreds for The Joy of Painting. And yet most have not been made available — though a few were donated to the Smithsonian. A 2019 solo show in Virginia was the rare occasion when admirers of Ross’s work could see it in person.

Evidently, that’s all about to change. As ARTnews‘ Daniel Cassaday reports, the Minnesota gallery Modern Artifact is set to sell the first painting Ross completed for The Joy of Painting, 1983’s A Walk In the Woods. The asking price? $9.85 million.

It’s worth popinting out that the galley in question also sells work by some other fairly big names, with work currently on sale from Andy Warhol and Damien Hirst, among others. (In keeping with their Minnesota location, they’ve also sold some work by Bob Dylan.)

In a statement provided to ARTnews, Modern Artifact’s Ryan Nelson pointed to Ross’s sustained popularity. “Bob Ross has surpassed Andy Warhol and Pablo Picasso as the internet’s most searched for artist according to data from Google Analytics,” Nelson said.

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As for what the next steps for A Walk In the Woods might be, the gallery is also considering taking the painting on tour — meaning that fans of The Joy of Painting might soon have a bit more Bob Ross in their lives.

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