Search My-West

"Informative and entertaining, My-West will be a valued destination for westerners and devotees of all things western. Well-written posts, evocative photos and fine art, valuable travel tips, and an upbeat style make this a destination site for travelers and web surfers. Go West!" - Stan Lynde, Award-winning Western novelist and cartoonist
Art Auctions Archives
Subscribe to Art Auctions



The Jackson Hole Arts Festival: Million Dollar Cowboy Art

By Donna Poulton

Credit: ©

If you want to attend next year, reserve a room now, because the small town of Jackson Hole is filled to capacity during the Jackson Hole Arts Festival, held each year in early September. 

Offering more events than any one person can absorb, there are three you won’t want to miss: the National Museum of Wildlife’s miniature auction; the Jackson Hole Art Auction; and the Quick Draw.

The Quick Draw brings some of the best artists of the west together to test their speed, endurance and talent during a quick draw in which the artists have 90 minutes to complete a painting.  The work, still wet and smelling of oil and turpentine, is auctioned immediately after to the highest bidder.

Credit: ©

Jeff Ham in black sweatshirt. Credit: ©

Painting by Jeff Ham. Credit: ©

Painting of a fox, finished in the final minute of the countdown. ©

Tim Tanner, revealing his background in illustration. ©

After the quick draw event, the real excitement began with the Jackson Hole Art Auction.  This year the Four Lazy F Ranch sold its considerable collection of art by such artists such as O.C. Seltzer, Edward Borein, Charles M. Russell, Harry Jackson and others.  Although a few paintings were passed on and a few sold at below estimate, much of the best work exceeded expectations.  Here is a sample of some of the art and the big numbers the work brought in.

Credit: Jackson Hole Art Auction

Dye, Charlie, 1906-1972
Texas Brush Popper
oil on board
20 x 24
Estimated: $20,000 to $30,000
Sold Price: $74,750

Credit: Jackson Hole Art Auction

Russell, Charles M., 1864-1926
Riders on Mountain Trail
pencil and ink on paper
10.5 x 9.5
Estimated: $10,000 to $15,000
Sold Price: $43,125

Credit: Jackson Hole Art Auction

Seltzer, Olaf C., 1877-1957
Warrior on Horseback with Lance, 1917
14.25 x 10.25
Estimated: $18,000 to $24,000
Sold Price: $37,375

Credit: Jackson Hole Art Auction

Seltzer, Olaf C., 1877-1957
Charles Russell on Horseback
12 x 8.75
Estimated: $25,000 to $35,000
Sold Price: $51,750

Credit: Jackson Hole Art Auction

Seltzer, Olaf C., 1877-1957
Charles Russell with Horse
watercolor on paper
12.75 x 9
Estimated: $25,000 to $35,000
Sold Price: $74,750

Credit: Jackson Hole Art Auction

Remington, Frederic, 1861-1909
He Lay Where He Had Been Jerked, Still as a Log, 1893
oil on canvas
24 x 36
Estimated: $1,000,000 to $1,500,000
Sold Price: $1,583,000

Credit: ©


Billy The Kid Makes a Killing

By Bennett Owen


It is one of the few known photographs of Billy the Kid … taken in 1879 outside a saloon in Fort Sumner, New Mexico, just a year before lawman Pat Garrett shot the outlaw dead.  Now, the tintype has the distinction of being the 4th most valuable western photograph ever sold at auction … fetching $2.3 million at the annual Old West Auction in Denver.  Who said crime doesn’t pay?

Pre-auction buzz put the selling price in the $400,000 range but obviously that was a masterpiece of understatement. Just ahead of the sale, the owner of the Cody Old West Show and Auction set the stage for Fox News:

The new owner, billionaire William Koch, had a simple explanation for his multi-million dollar outlay: “I love the old west,” he said. 

Billy the Kid killed anywhere between eight and 22 men before his own death at age 22.  But his story also inspired one of the greatest western movies ever, coupled with what just might be the greatest rock and roll ballad of all time.

See Knockin' in Heaven's Door (Sorry - video can't be embedded).

This wasn't the only photo of Billy. Here's one with Billy, Doc Holliday, Jesse James and Charlie Bowdre. What do you think this would fetch at auction?

From the Ellison Collection. Credit: Stuff I Bought or Six Degrees of Separation


The Coeur d’Alene Art Auction in Reno … Yup, Reno

By Donna L. Poulton

Credit: Coeur d’ Alene Art Auction

Founded in 1984, the Coeur d’Alene Art Auction held in Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho became a highly anticipated annual event.  The auction specialized in deceased artists of the West and it turned out to be a recipe for success.  Over the next fifteen years, well-heeled collectors of Western Art from all over the world flocked to Coeur d'Alene to participate in an event that is conducted with the lightening quick pace of a cattle auction. Yipps, yapps and yeehaas are barked out as the spotters move the art at a staggering one-piece-per-minute pace.

Credit: Coeur d’ Alene Art Auction

In 1999, the Coeur d’Alene Art Auction moved to Reno Nevada, because, as the Wall Street Journal reported  “... 42 private jets tried to fly in, and [the airport] had to divert some [planes] to Spokane because there wasn’t room.” It was time to move to bigger venue with more parking spaces.

I follow this auction like my husband follows the NBA finals and my favorites in the 2011 selection range from a Gustave Baumann at several thousand dollars to the … “money is no object” price tag on the Charlie Russell.  You can see the entire 297 lots in the online catalogue at Coeur d’Alene Art Auction.

Credit:: Coeur d’ Alene Art Auction

Lot No. 294
Superstition Mountains
9 x 8.5 inches
Estimate: $3,000-5,000

Credit:: Coeur d’ Alene Art Auction

Grand Canyon
watercolor on paper
12.5 x 10.25 inches
Estimate: $4,000-6,000

Credit:: Coeur d’ Alene Art Auction

CARL RUNGIUS (1869-1959)
oil on canvas
12 x 16 inches
Estimate: $30,000-50,000

Credit:: Coeur d’ Alene Art Auction

CHARLES M. RUSSELL (1864-1926)
M. D. Baldwin (1904)
watercolor and ink on paper
4 x 9.5 inches
Estimate: $50,000-75,000

Credit:: Coeur d’ Alene Art Auction

JOSEPH H. SHARP (1859-1953)
Ancient Songs (circa 1927)
oil on canvas
16 x 20 inches
Estimate: $100,000-200,000

Credit: Coeur d’ Alene Art Auction

MAYNARD DIXON (1875-1946)
Sculptured Sandstone (1944)
oil on canvasboard
20 x 24 inches
Estimate: $150,000-250,000

Credit: Coeur d’ Alene Art Auction

CHARLES M. RUSSELL (1864-1926)
A Dangerous Sport (1924)
watercolor on paper
17.5 x 27.5 inches
Estimate: $1,000,000-2,000,000

CBS Morning America reported on the Auction, showing the crowd of over 900 at the cattle call art sale:


Western Art at East Coast Prices

By Donna Poulton

Sotheby’s New York, highlights from:
The American Indian Art Auction: 18 May 2011 and
The American Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture Auction: 19 May 2011

Masterworks of the American West continue to do well at auction reaching and breaking the high estimates.  I had to look twice as I reviewed the records at the American Indian Art auction. The sale of an Oglala Sioux War Shirt from the collection of James and Michele Mangan was slated to sell between a low estimate of $250,000 and a high estimate of $350,000. When the bidding quit and the hammer came down, it had sold for $2,658,500, a staggering  $2,300,000 over the high estimate.

Credit: Sotheby’s, New York

A day later on the 19th, two of the finest paintings at the Sotheby’s American Painting auction were sold from the collection of the Wichita Center for the Arts.  I can only wonder what the board was thinking to let these two paintings, by founding members of the Taos Society of Artists, leave their collection. With the buyer’s premium, both Walter Ufer’s (1876 – 1936) After the Chapel Hour, and Ernest L. Blumenschein’s (1874–1960) White Blanket and Blue Spruce sold for over estimate at $818,500 and $1,538,500 respectively.

Credit: Sotheby’s, New York

Credit: Sothebys New York


Charles Russell Auction - Great Falls, Montana

by Donna Poulton

"The West is dead... you may lose a sweetheart but you won't forget her."

 - Charles Russell            

The Charles M. Russell Museum, located in Great Falls Montana, has been auctioning and selling art to finance their Museum for the past 50 years.  In those 50 years, the last vestiges of the old West have slipped away forever and a new West has emerged. Whether we like it or not, there is no going back to those ‘good old days’ … It’s all the more intriguing, then, that buyers from all over the world continue to purchase paintings with images that take them back in time to a pristine landscape and a romanticized idea of an uncomplicated way of life.  Last year the C. M. Russell Museum auction event raised over $1.6 million in art and related sales over a three-day period—an enviable sum for any museum.

Charles M. Russell Cabin, at the Charles M. Russell Museum. Photo courtesy of roger4336.

This year, with over 400 bidders in attendance, the event is predicted to top last year’s record. Although the tally is not yet in, a look at the auction sales today suggests they're on track.  While not sizzling, the overall sales met the low estimate and there were no passes—often seen at other auctions in the last few years.  For the discerning eye, a few objects slipped through the cracks … a Kathryn Stats painting was a steal at $3500 and an Edwin Curtis photograph, estimated to sell between $10,000 to $14,000, sold for $6000.

Cliff Light by Kathryn Stats. Photo courtesy of

The Vanishing Race by Edward S. Curtis

Bawling Calf, a painting by Contemporary Cowboy Artist of America Bill Owens, went for over estimate with the premium, but it was worth it to anyone who works with or loves cattle.

The most exciting part of this year’s auction, though, was getting a glimpse of the old West masters: Will James, Edward Borein, Sydney Lawrence, O.C. Seltzer, O.E. Berninghaus and of course Charles Russell. Their work also sold within estimates, but on the low side. The much anticipated sale of a Charles Russell painting, estimated to sell between $240,000 and $280,000, came in low at $200,000, but that’s still not a bad price for a watercolor.

Bronco Buster by Charles M. Russell

Among the Adobes-Taos by Oscar E. Berninghaus

With the Pioneer Woman giving the keynote, the auction and a number of other events filling out the week, Great Falls, Montana was the place to be this weekend.