Rockwell painting sets world record, leading all lots in $10.7M Sports sale

DALLAS, Texas — Heritage Auctions recorded 14 six-figure sales in its recent Platinum Night Sports auction. The seven-figure result of a single lot set a new world record for Normal Rockwell. This came after a protracted online bidding war extended into the early morning hours Aug. 20.

Rockwell’s Historic Original Study of ‘Tough Call’ Tops Sports Auction

'Tough Call' Rockwell cover study

Original Tough Call, Saturday Evening Post cover study, April 23, 1949, by Norman Rockwell, sold for $1.68M during the Aug. 19-20 Platinum Sports Auction through Heritage Auctions. (Photos courtesy Heritage Auctions)

“I need to credit my colleagues in the Art division for the assist on this one,” explained Chris Ivy, director of Sports Auctions at Heritage. “This isn’t the first time that we’ve been able to draw from other segments of our million-strong bidding clientele to benefit a Sports consignor.”

That beneficiary was a direct descendant of famed Major League umpire John “Beans” Reardon, the primary subject of Norman Rockwell’s charming painting that ultimately would appear in its final version upon a 1949 cover of The Saturday Evening Post. Reardon’s family had believed the original study they owned was merely a signed print, worth only several hundred dollars.

The noble Iron Horse accounting for the second and third top prices in the two-day auction event. Gehrig’s 1937 New York Yankees home pinstriped jersey soared to a world record price of $870,00 In addition, his 1924 rookie contract with the team drew a winning bid of $480,000.

Mantle and Ruth Uniforms Change Hands

Other legendary Yankees rounded out the auction’s top five. Mickey Mantle’s 1954 jersey went to a new owner for $432,000. A bat used during Babe Ruth’s first pinstriped season brought $408,000.

The market for signed pre-war baseball cards continued its steady ascent, with stunning results for Gehrig ($52,800), Cobb ($33,600) and Mantle ($45,600). And Negro League collectors set new pricing records for the highly-coveted Harrison Studio postcards featuring the Homestead Grays and Pittsburgh Crawfords, which realized $22,800 and $36,000 respectively.

Other highlights include:

* 1920 “Shoeless Joe” Jackson & Buck Weaver Signed Baseball: $240,000

Pittsburg Crawfords photo postcard

Professional photo postcard of the 1932 Pittsburgh Crawfords, one of just five Negro League postcards by the Harrison Studios of Hot Springs, Arkansas, that sold for $36,000.

– Circa 1915 Babe Ruth Rookie-Era Original Photograph by Paul Thompson: $72,000
* Early 1960s Paul Hornung Game-Worn Green Bay Packers Jersey: $84,000
– 1936 Casey Stengel Game-Worn Brooklyn Dodgers Uniform: $90,000
* 1933-2016 Major League Baseball All-Star Game Complete Ticket Run: $144,000
– 1970 Ernie Banks Game-Worn Chicago Cubs Jersey, MEARS A10: $132,000
* 1915-19 “Shoeless Joe” Jackson Original Photograph by Charles Conlon: $18,000
– 1957 Topps Johnny Unitas Rookie #138 PSA Mint 9: $144,000
* 1965 Topps Joe Namath Rookie #122 PSA NM-MT+ 8.5: $78,000
– 1960 Hemmets Journal Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali) Rookie #23 PSA Mint 9: $40,800

For more information, visit www.ha.com.

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