A Norman Rockwell painting of Beans Reardon for the Saturday Evening Post thought to be just a framed print has sold for almost two million dollars during Heritage Auctions sports auction. Image: Heritage Auctions
DALLAS, TEXAS- A recently discovered Norman Rockwell original Saturday Evening Post cover study for the painting Tough Call has sold for $1.68M, setting a world record for the artist. Estimated at more than $300,000, the illustration soared beyond estimates when it went under the hammer on Monday during Heritage Auctions Sports Platinum Night Auction in Dallas.
For decades, the painting was believed to be just a framed print that was signed by Rockwell to umpire Beans Reardon. The true importance of the painting came to light after it was presented to Heritage Auction House. Experts at the auction house were quick to discover that it is actually an original oil on paper study work for one of Rockwell’s most famous paintings. Chris Ivy, director of Sports Auctions at Heritage described the discovery the Rockwell discovery as “a wonderful story and we expect this work to do quite well considering the broad interest across sports, art and Rockwell enthusiasts.”
Ivy’s excitement must have gone over the top when sports and art collectors went into an online bidding war to win the painting. The result of the online war is that the painting sold for more than three times its estimated price. “I need to credit my colleagues in the Art division for the assist on this one,” explained Ivy in his response to the sale. “This isn’t the first time that we’ve been able to draw from other segments of our million-strong bidding clientele to benefit a Sports consignor,” he concluded.
Benefiting from the sale is a direct descendant of the famed Major League umpire John “Beans” Reardon, the primary subject of the Norman Rockwell painting. The final version of the painting appeared on the 1949 cover of the Saturday Evening Post.
The Norman Rockwell painting is just one of the works that helped Heritage Auction achieve the $10.7 Million sports auction. Also making a high price at the sports auction is Gehrig’s 1937 New York Yankees home pinstriped jersey. The jersey soared to a world record price of $870,000. His 1924 rookie contract with the New York Yankees drew a winning bid of $480,000.
Gehrig was not the only legendary Yankee that made a great showing at the sports auction. Mickey Mantle’s 1954 jersey sold for $432,000 while a bat used during Babe Ruth’s first pinstriped season realized $408,000.
Signed pre-war baseball cards showed tremendous appreciation at the sports auction as some of them did very well during the sale. A signed Gehrig’s baseball card sold for $52,800 while one signed by Ty Cobb sold for $33,600. Homestead Grays and Pittsburgh Crawfords realized $22,800 and $36,000 respectively.