A Walk in the Woods (1983), the painting completed on air during the first episode of Bob Ross’s landmark television show The Joy of Painting has come to market, The Art Newspaper reported Thursday.
They say that memories are priceless. However, anyone interested in reliving the first episode of The Joy of Painting via A Walk in the Woods is going to have to shell out a hefty sum: Modern Artifact, the Minneapolis, Minnesota-based gallery selling the canvas, has priced it at $9.85 million.
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The gallery understands that this figure might seem outlandish to some, but that may be the point. The gallery says that while it will entertain offers “they would prefer to share it with a museum or traveling exhibit to allow as many people as possible to view such an exciting work of art.”
Meanwhile, Modern Artifact plans to take the painting on tour itself, according to The Art Newspaper.
In a statement, gallery owner Ryan Nelson wrote about Ross’s singular place in art and cultural history. “Bob Ross has surpassed Andy Warhol and Pablo Picasso as the internet’s most searched for artist according to data from Google Analytics,” he said. “It’s an incredibly impressive feat, especially considering that there is virtually no official marketing, and his original paintings are nearly impossible to find.”
Ross has become a crossover star of sorts, and The Joy of Painting has captured the attention of an internet-bred generation in search of calm in the SEO storm. In 2015, the Amazon-owned video game streaming site Twitch held a Bob Ross marathon and streamed all 403 episodes of the show. When it was all over, Twitch claimed that 5.6 million unique viewers tuned in.
A Walk in the Woods is just one of the close to 30,000 paintings Ross is said to have created in his lifetime and over 1,000 for his television show. The works rarely come to auction, despite the fact that Ross often created three versions for every episode of his instructional show: the first one as a reference for the second, which was created on air, and a third more detailed work that was included in his instructional books. The works were often donated to the Smithsonian Museum, to various PBS member stations, or kept by Bob Ross, Inc.
This particular painting was owned by a woman who volunteered at the station where Ross recorded his famous television show, who won it at an auction to support the station.
“The appeal of Bob Ross has extended far beyond the traditional art market and into the world of pop culture. The Bob Ross hype is a rare glimmer of authenticity in a fine art market that is often tightly controlled and highly manipulated,” Nelson said in a statement.
Ross died in 1995 due to complications from lymphoma.
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