Austin, Texas, family learns ‘framed print’ is actually original painted study
Dallas, Texas (Aug. 20, 2017) — “Tough Call,” a classic original masterpiece by Norman Rockwell — discovered hanging in Austin, Texas, and considered nothing more than a cheap print — has sold for a staggering $1.6 million at a public auction of high-end sports memorabilia held by Heritage Auctions in Dallas. The 16-inch by 15-inch painting was expected to sell for $300,000 but instead realized more than five times pre-auction estimates, once again 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. “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.”
The original painting for “Tough Call” was published as a 1949 Saturday Evening Post cover and became an instant classic of American illustration art. Rockwell’s study for the piece (a preliminary work that guided the master’s hand) was gifted to umpire Beans Reardon.
Auction house experts realized the work, signed by Rockwell, was much more than a simple print of the famous work. Close inspection showed it was an original oil on paper study for one of Rockwell’s most famous paintings.
“The Rockwell discovery is a wonderful story and the auction price exceeded all expectations,” added Chris Ivy, director of Sports Auctions at Heritage.
This is the second Rockwell study sold in Dallas recently, as Heritage Rockwell’s study for “Triple Self Portrait” commanded over $1.3 million just months ago by Heritage Auctions, itself more than tripling any previous record for a Rockwell study.
Heritage Auctions is the largest fine art and collectibles auction house founded in the United States, and the world’s largest collectibles auctioneer. Heritage maintains offices in New York, Dallas, Beverly Hills, San Francisco, Chicago, Palm Beach, Paris, Geneva, Amsterdam and Hong Kong.
The Internet’s most popular auction-house website, HA.com, has over one million registered bidder-members, and searchable free archives of four million past auction records with prices realized, descriptions and enlargeable photos.