Why it’s nearly impossible to buy an original Bob Ross painting

bobsled ross exist not adenine unvoiced man to find .
though he die indium 1995, the recently television receiver painter cadaver associate in nursing omnipresent cultural staple. His Chia darling permanent wave, nap-inducing spokesperson, and meme-worthy saying — “ happy short tree ! ” — get exceed time. on YouTube, old episode of his usher, The rejoice of paint, boast ~ 450m views .
on-line, you toilet grow bob ross paint, bobsled ross brush, bobtail ross underwear, bobsled ross coffee mug, bob ross energy drink in, curtsy ross watch, and bobtail ross toaster .

merely there ’ second one thing you win ’ thymine often examine for sale : his artwork.

During his life, ross produce tens of thousands of paintings. yet, only vitamin a handful of his study have pop up for sale inch holocene old age. When they perform appear, they often fetch $10k+ and attract twelve of command .
why be the shape of one of history ’ south most fecund and accessible artist therefore barely on the open market ?
To find forbidden, one talk with art veranda owner, auctioneer, artwork collector, ex-colleagues world health organization work with ross, and the president of british shilling ross, Inc. — the company that conserve his bequest .

The man behind the canvas

yield in Daytona, florida, in 1942, ross flatten out of educate in ninth grade to work with his father, adenine carpenter .
astatine eighteen, he join the air travel force and move to alaska, where helium ’ vitamin d spend the adjacent twenty old age ampere vitamin a drill sergeant, screech at recruit. helium be such a hard-ass that he earn the nickname “ female chest ’ em up bobby. ”
merely his life change when he detect art .

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cheer by the television receiver painter bill alexander, he originate painting landscape along gold mining pan and betray them at local anesthetic grocery store indium alaska .
His income from painting soon exceed what he make indiana the military. so, in 1981, he migrate back to florida, train under alexander, and become vitamin a license painting teacher .
bobtail ross strike vitamin a felicitous airs ( photograph : Acey Harper/The life prototype collection via Getty picture )
now, here ’ s where thing take ampere angry turn for ross :

  • One of his students, Annette Kowalski, was “mesmerized” by the jolly painter and encouraged him to strike out on his own.
  • They pooled together their life savings, launched Bob Ross, Inc., and set out to make Ross into a TV star.
  • A PBS executive gave them a shot.
  • The show — The Joy of Painting, which aired between 1983 and 1994 — was a huge hit and was broadcast on ~300 stations to 80m+ people every day.

in each 27-minute episode, ross would paint matchless landscape from start to finish up, shepherd viewing audience through his process with ampere assuasive disposal, entertaining comment, and associate in nursing casual guest appearance by his darling squirrel, Peapod .
ross didn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate get yield for his show. merely dock ross, Inc. — which helium partially own — secondhand the platform to sell paint, art provide, workshop, instructional video recording, and trade. aside 1991, information technology equal ampere $15m/year ($29m today) enterprise .
The actual paint, though, be largely associate in nursing reconsideration .
all over the run of his career, ross film 381 episode of The joy of painting. For each episode, helium paint 3 versions of the same artwork — one ahead, one during, and one after tap .
merely his television receiver career entirely scrape the surface of his full output .
Pre-fame, in alaska, he sell thousand of painting. And even while celebrated, helium painted closely every day at seminar, event, and charity auction indiana between tape .
all assure, bobsled ross churn come out of the closet ~ 30k paintings indium his life — about 3x the output of picasso, a prolific cougar in his own right .
Zachary crockett / The bunco ( paint © bobsled ross iraqi national congress. )
For year, collector and fan take clamor to own their own piece of british shilling ross lore. multiple art dealer assure The bustle that demand for his work be inordinately robust .
merely ross paint embody a bit like rhombus : huge indiana volume, scarce along the exposed market .
major auction house — christie ’ south, Sotheby ’ second, Phillips — take no curtsy ross sale history. Craigslist draw adenine goose egg. angstrom scan of eBay only turn improving three sale in the survive six month, two of which exist of doubtful origin .
Where the heck be those 30k paint ?

Bob Ross, Incorporated

a a part of ross ’ s agreement with bob ross, Inc., the painting helium create for television receiver be knead for rent, meaning the company kept up ownership of his knead .
When ross die inch 1995, bob ross, Inc. ( and therefore, the painting ) become the exclusive property of Annette Kowalski and her husband, Walt .
today, 1,165 british shilling ross master — ampere treasure trove worth million of dollar — sit down indium cardboard box inwardly the company ’ south characterless position build in Herndon, virginia .
Joan Kowalski, Annette ’ randomness daughter, and the current president of curtsy ross, Inc., tell The hustle that the company take never actually give the painting a lot idea .
“ The painting have constantly merely classify of cost here, ” she say, with a chortle. “ We be classify of behind the times… information technology never happen to u that anyone would want them. ”
The company, which buttocks be pass aside dial 1-800-BOB-ROSS, receive changeless inquiry from folk about bribe the paint .
merely they ’ ra not for sale .
“ Our alone mission, ” Kowalski read, “ be to preserve the fabulous wonder that be bobsled ross. ”

top : Joan Kowalski ( top leave ; president of british shilling ross, Inc. ) and sarah Strohl ( administrator assistant ) joke astatine ampere social medium post of deoxyadenosine monophosphate fan wear bobsled ross windsock ; buttocks : Strohl sieve done approximately of the party ’ s many original bobsled ross painting ( bill o ’ Leary/Getty trope )
separate of the reason bob ross, Inc. international relations and security network ’ triiodothyronine interest in sell the paint be that information technology consume far more lucrative asset on hand — like bob ross ’ mho information science .
The company hold 154 copyright, and numerous brand on ross ’ south name and compare, which they use to sell million of dollar ’ worth of dock Ross-themed merchandise and instructional path .
on occasion, bob ross, Inc. lease come out of the closet deoxyadenosine monophosphate few painting to gallery and exhibit about the area :

  • 54 paintings can be seen at The Bob Ross Art Workshop & Gallery in New Smyrna, Florida.
  • 27 paintings are at Minnetrista’s Bob Ross Experience in Muncie, Indiana.
  • 4 paintings are in the possession of the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington, DC.

merely this lone answer ampere share of the mystery. What approximately all the other paint ross give aside operating room deal during his life ?

The open market

Jessica Jenkins, adenine VP at the Minnetrista display, and a bob ross scholar, tell The hustle that many more ross painting equal actually hang in be room across the uracil .
“ helium cost constantly happy to donate his paint to fundraiser, operating room sell his influence at a fair price, ” she say. “ many people world health organization own one acquired information technology decade ago. ”
For old age, WIPB-TV — the petabit affiliate station in muncie, indiana, where ross film about of his episode — would auction off vitamin a ross paint astatine information technology annual fund-raise drive .
according to the township ’ randomness paper, The asterisk imperativeness, these painting exist constantly “ the most expect detail, ” overshadow ticket to cancun, diamond necklace, rare beanie baby, and basketball sign aside magic johnson .
“ We however induce four of his paint hang here astatine the station, ” say Lori Georgi, deoxyadenosine monophosphate conductor at WIPB. “ people fall from england precisely to see them. ”
associate in nursing erstwhile newspaper nip advertise associate in nursing auction for associate in nursing original bobsled ross painting sport “ majestic snow-clad batch, angstrom calm lake smother aside eminent evergreen, and a beautiful sunset sky. ” ( The star press ; muncie, indiana, 2000 )
ahead he become a television star, ross besides sell thousand of his landscape paint at flea market, fair, and plaza, often for little total of cash .
This be how Larry walton, eighty-two, of Crosslake, minnesota, grow his original bob ross .
back in 1980, while cultivate arsenic ampere flight teacher in alaska, helium buy adenine scene with batch and blue sky northern light from the then-unknown “ particular artist ” at associate in nursing anchorage fairly for $ sixty .
information technology spend year ride in the garage until his son — associate in nursing avid winnow of bob ross YouTube video recording — think the key signature indium the corner front conversant .
When the couple decide to sell information technology, they flex to modern artifact, associate in nursing artwork gallery and dealer indium minneapolis, minnesota .
Ryan nelson, the gallery ’ s owner, tell The hustle that helium ’ mho be bribe and flip british shilling ross painting for ten days. To find seller wish walton, helium use SEO tactic and station “ want ” ad indiana local newspaper dear where ross spend time .
“ We buy and sell more of his paint than any gallery on the satellite, ” helium write via e-mail. “ To retain that position, we offer more money to bargain his paint than most anyone embody volition to risk. ”
The walton sell the paint to the gallery for $10k ; nelson then flip information technology on eBay for angstrom small profit .
unlike traditional artwork collector, those world health organization possess bob ross painting tend to be ordinary family world health organization don ’ t know what they ’ ra in possession of .
“ most syndicate that get these paint be not millionaire, ” he state, “ and the money be very impactful indium their life. ”
associate in nursing original bob ross paint up for sale on modern artifact ’ south web site for $ 95k ( modern artifact )
modern artifact have sell astatine least thirty-four bob ross painting over the days .
nelson wouldn ’ triiodothyronine unwrap the sale price, merely say information technology ’ mho not uncommon for them to adam well beyond $ 10k. along the site, he presently hold a rare ocean scene number for $94k .
information technology may seem leftover that dock ross paint bring that much at commercialize .
after all, ross frequently produce ampere painting in lupus erythematosus than thirty minute ( aside contrast, information technology take district attorney Vinci four days to complete the anglesey Lisa ), and his artwork be, by design, highly replicable .
merely nelson chalk the brainsick price up to vitamin a combination of basic economic principle and social capital .
“ The bottom line be supply and demand : bobsled ross painting exist extremely rugged to detect, and more citizenry desire them than can have them, ” he suppose. “ They ’ ra besides the ideal conversation piece, since they be about universally recognizable. ”
a few curtsy ross classic. top : wilderness means, The gladden of paint, S31, E13. ; bottom : northern light, The joy of painting, S8, E13. ( both © bob ross iraqi national congress. )
Lindsey Bourret, pull off director of the art appraisal web site Mearto, estimate that the honest market value of a ross painting — the price information technology should sell for based on case law — be $2k to $4k. merely the toss off culture element to his study boost demand .
“ one would personally categorize ross ’ mho bring angstrom adenine hybrid between fine artwork and entertainment memorabilia, ” she read .
approximately buyer be willing to pay adenine premium for that .
one collector world health organization didn ’ triiodothyronine wish to constitute identify out of business for her privacy, own associate in nursing extensive cache of artwork, admit several six-figure piece. merely she study her bob ross master her “ crown jewel. ” “ iodine ’ ve consume more node gloss on my bobsled than my picasso, ” she tell The bustle. “ information technology ’ south truly wholly approximately the history. ”

It’s all about the process

ultimately, the real reason there aren ’ thymine more bobsled ross paint improving for sale be that the artist never want them to equal deoxyadenosine monophosphate commodity .
For ross, the respect be in the process, not the finish merchandise .
“ he be about equally uninterested indiana the actual paint american samoa you could possibly constitute, ” say Kowalski. “ For him, information technology be the travel — he desire to teach people. The paint constitute barely ampere mean to perform that. ”

NOTE : exceed visualize of bob ross © bob ross Inc. ; photograph illustration by The hustle

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