Ross produced hundreds of paintings, each completed in around half an hour, throughout the run of his show — and now the first one can be yours for just under 10 million bucks. The Minneapolis gallery Modern Artifact has put "A Walk in the Woods" up for sale, with an eye-popping price tag of $9.85 million.
"This is the painting that started it all for Bob Ross and The Joy of Painting," gallery owner Ryan Nelson tells EW. "Ross created more than 400 paintings on air during the show. However, this is the only one from season 1, episode 1. The opportunity to buy a Bob Ross episode piece is nearly impossible because there are so few that go up for sale. In the last 15 years, we only know of one other episode piece that sold, and that piece also came through us. This Bob Ross 'rookie card' is the most important single work of art in his entire body of work."
Everett Collection Bob Ross
Though the affable artist's creations have never been considered masterpieces, Nelson says Ross "is more searched on Google than nearly any other artist in the world. He is one of the most important artists of our time and arguably the most famous American painter."
The Joy of Painting premiered Jan. 11, 1983. "I think today we'll do a picture that's maybe like we're walking through the woods," Ross said as he began the oil-on-canvas painting, using just a pair of natural-bristle brushes, a palette knife, and an easel.
Ross hosted the show from that episode through 1994, a year before his death at 52. "A Walk in the Woods" was originally sold just months after Ross painted it, to raise funds for his local PBS affiliate. A station volunteer bought the piece and hung it in their home for 39 years before getting in touch with Nelson to sell it last year. Nelson suggested to NPR that the original owner likely paid less than $100 for the painting.
Nelson tells EW that his gallery has "received an overwhelming interest in the painting" and adds, "We have also had a number of major institutions wanting to show the piece. Although we have listed the painting for sale, we may pause to show the piece for a year if we are able to find the right partner to help us do so."
While few could afford "A Walk in the Woods," everyone can enjoy its creation on The Joy of Painting. "There's no secret to this," Ross said in the episode, which you can watch above. "Anybody can paint."
This article has been update with comment from Nelson.
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