Record week at Russell Exhibition and Sale


Record Sales Set at The Russell: An Exhibition and Sale to Benefit the C.M. Russell Museum 2016

he C.M. Russell Museum achieved record results through several events and three live auctions during The Russell Exhibition and Sale in Great Falls, Montana, March 17-19.

The gross total of $9.4 million beat the previous record of $8.1 million in 2015. BNSF Railway Company has been the overall presenting sponsor of The Russell since 2014.

“We are proud of our continued partnership with the C.M. Russell Museum and congratulate them on this year’s record-setting Russell auction,” said Zak Andersen, vice president, Corporate Relations, BNSF Railway. “Success of the event allows the C.M. Russell Museum to preserve and communicate the art, culture, and history of the West as captured by Charles Russell and other great artists.”

The sold-out Russell Live Auction took place Saturday night at the Mansfield Convention Center in downtown Great Falls. It featured 150 lots of historic and contemporary Western art, including 12 significant pieces by Charles M. Russell. All of the Russell works were submitted by third party consignors. The gross sales total for the Live Auction including buyer’s premium was $8.2 million, over one million more than the 2015 record of $6.6 million.

The most celebrated sale of the night was Thomas Moran’s oil painting, Castle Rock, Green River, Wyoming, 1907, which sold for $3.6 million. The highest price ever paid for artwork in The Russell Live Auction, it surpasses the 2015 record of Charles M. Russell’s oil painting, For Supremacy, which sold for $1.5 million.

The two second highest-selling pieces of the night were Russell paintings, Indian with Bow, c. 1900, and Grizzly at Close Quarters, 1901, each selling for $800,000. Four other Russell paintings sold for over $100,000 including: the c. 1892-1895 watercolor, Water Girl [No. 1], which hammered at $220,000; Russell’s 1899 watercolor, Blood Chief, which brought $200,000; his 1901 oil, Portrait of Indian, gaveling at $150,000; and the oil painting, Curley the Crow, c. 1888, which brought $120,000.

“We were honored to present such historically important pieces to our loyal collectors. All 12 Charles M. Russell pieces were sold, representing a continued robust interest in his work,” states Christina Hoover-Blackwell, chair of the C.M. Russell Museum Board of Directors.

The First Strike Friday Night live auction also produced record-setting sales, with 100 percent of the artwork sold, a rare occurrence. Featuring 80 lots by contemporary artists, the gross total was $339,000 including buyer’s premium. The highest selling piece was Colt Idol’s oil painting Ridgewalkers, which went for $12,000. More than 800 guests attended the event, which was sponsored by Fay Ranches, Inc.

Art in Action™ was another successful sellout. Sponsored by Trevor D. Rees-Jones, this quick-finish event grossed $179,000 in art sales with buyer’s premium. One hundred percent of the proceeds from Art in Action™ were donated to the C.M. Russell Museum. Andy Thomas’ work gaveled the highest at $16,000.

The remaining gross total is comprised of ticket sales, revenue from the Russell Skull Society of Artist Suites, and strong sponsorship support from the community. The net proceeds from The Russell directly fund the non-profit museum’s operations and educational programs. For more information about The Russell and a full list of results by lot number, please visit

Mark your calendar for next year’s The Russell: An Exhibition and Sale to Benefit the C.M. Russell Museum, to take place March 16-18, 2017.

BSNF Railway is the overall presenting sponsor of The Russell Exhibition and Sale.

The mission of the C.M. Russell Museum is to collect, preserve, research, interpret, and educate on the art and life of Charles M. Russell; the art and lives of his contemporaries; and the art of preceding and ensuing generations that depicts and focuses on the culture, life, and country of Russell’s West.

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