Bill Perkins has bought a classic piece of artwork for a whopping $15,300,000. The high-stakes poker player and hedge fund manager paid the huge sum for The Sugar Shack, a 1976 painting by former professional football player and artist Ernie Barnes.
Bill Perkins Splashes Out $15,300,000 for Ernie Barnes Painting
Good times!!!! https://t.co/OiNt7G9gGq
— Bill Perkins (Guy) (@bp22) May 13, 2022
The purchase beats the previous record of the African American artist by more than 27 times.
This week on the Artelligence podcast we talked to @bp22 and the extraordinary turn of the tide that Ernie Barnes’ “Sugar Shack” brought to @ChristiesInc marquee week. Listen below. pic.twitter.com/6Kkiy1ZkcU
— LiveArt (@artmarket) May 18, 2022
Although a self-confessed “noob” in the art world, Perkins still decided to get involved in a bidding war with 21 other bidders.
He kicked off proceedings by offering $500,000 for the painting and then got embroiled in a friendly bit of banter with a Los Angeles-based art adviser named Dane Jensen.
Jensen was said to be bidding on behalf of Mellody Hobson, the wife of George Lucas, according to Vanity Fair, and told Perkins that he would not stop raising his offer.
Perkins listened and responded by saying that if that was the case, he was going to make him pay.
In the end, the back-and-forth continued until Jensen finally cried enough and Perkins was able to collect his prize.
Speaking on the Artelligence Podcast, Perkins said:
“It’s a cultural treasure. And I felt it was a cultural treasure, but after I bought the piece, the number of people that have reached out to me … Black, white, a number of Americans that are like ‘I love that painting, it reminds me of this’ … it’s solidified in my mind that it’s a cultural treasure.”
“I’ve been picking these works up by Barnes and I’ve just felt like I was stealing, like I’ve been plundering the art world (by) picking up significant pieces of American art at what I’d consider a relative discount.”
“The art world is biased against American art, and the world is completely biased against African American arts, African American narratives, which are a quintessential American story. And so I’ve been able to benefit from that because I’m able to acquire works basically free on a relative basis, versus their historical (and) cultural significance.”
Bill Perkins eventually paid more than 80 times what the expected selling price was but still argued that he got a good deal.
The fact there were 22 bidders happy to join in the proceedings probably means that Perkins might have made another one of his trademark good deals, in an industry where he has little knowledge.
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