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Norman Rockwell’s ‘Saying Grace’ Achieves $46M at Sotheby’s American Art Auction

by Special to WorthPoint (12/11/13).

“Saying Grace,” which was voted by The Saturday Evening Post readers as their favorite cover, prompted an intense bidding war between two determined phone bidders who competed for more than nine minutes—an eternity at an auction—for the painting, which eventually sold for $46,085,000, a record for a Rockwell painting.

NEW YORK – Norman Rockwell’s masterpiece, “Saying Grace,” set a new record for any work sold in an American Art auction and nearly tripled the previous auction record for the artist when it achieved $46,085,000 on Dec. 4 at Sotheby’s American Art auction, soaring past its $20-million high estimate.

“Saying Grace” was among a selection of seven paintings by Rockwell from the family of Kenneth J. Stuart, Sr.—the artist’s longtime friend and art editor at The Saturday Evening Post—that was the centerpiece of the auction, which sold for a stunning total of $59,663,000.

Overall, the auction realized an exceptional total of $83,915,500, well in excess of its $62.1 million high estimate, and boasted a strong sell-through rate of 88.2 percent by lot. The only two American Art auctions at Sotheby’s to achieve totals larger than today’s results were held in May 2008, with $87.5 million, and December 2004, with $107.9 million including Property from the Collection of Rita & Daniel Fraad.

“Saying Grace,” which was voted by Post readers as their favorite cover, prompted an intense bidding war between two determined phone bidders who competed for more than nine minutes—an eternity at an auction—for the painting. The previous auction record for Norman Rockwell was set at Sotheby’s New York in 2006, when “Breaking Home Ties” sold for $15.4 million, and the previous auction record for any work sold in an American Art auction was set at Sotheby’s New York in 1999, when George Bellows’s “Polo Crowd” sold for $27.7 million.

Additional highlights of the Stuart Family Collection included “The Gossips,” which fetched $8,453,000 (est. $6 to $9 million) and “Walking to Church,” which brought $3,245,000 (est. $3 to $5 million).

For more information, visit the Sotheby’s website.


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