Uncle Scrooge art collection expected to bring $700K at auction

embarrassment_of_richeslow-res.jpgCarl Barks’ original oil painting  “Embarrassment of Riches,” 1983, will be sold without reserve during Heritage Auction Galleries’ Comic and Comic Art Signature® Auction Aug. 5-7. The entire auction listing can be seen online at Heritage’s website. The bid for this vibrantly colored rendering is already at $20,000. Photo courtesy Heritage Auction Galleries.

DALLAS — Paintings by Carl Barks, longtime Disney artist and creator of Uncle Scrooge, have long been among the most sought-after comic art items, with few offered for public sale and those that were most always saddled with a six-figure reserve price. On Friday, Aug. 6, however, Heritage Auctions will be auctioning 10 original Barks paintings, without reserves, in a special session devoted to the collection of Maryland radio executive Kerby Confer.

Though his name never appeared in a Disney comic, Barks wrote and drew Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge in some of the bestselling comics of the 1950s and 1960s. His rollicking adventure tales have been cited as an inspiration by the likes of George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and mystery writer Janet Evanovich.

The lavish oil paintings feature Scrooge McDuck, the wealthy miser who loves to swim in his enormous money bin. They began setting comic art auction records when the first were sold in the 1970s. Barks died in 2000.

Confer discovered Uncle Scrooge as an 8-year-old in Williamsport, Pa., at a time when he was lucky if he even had a quarter in his pocket.

“We weren’t dirt poor,” he said, “but Daddy was gone, Momma worked at the paper plate factory and I had two little sisters.”

He recalls opening his first Uncle Scrooge comic: “The very first panel is Scrooge diving off the diving board into the money,” he said, “and the next panel he’s burrowing through it like a gopher … I was totally captivated!”

Years later, Confer’s successful career as an owner and operator of radio stations gave him the means to acquire elite pieces, and when he happened to see a print of the Carl Barks painting “An Embarrassment of Riches” — one of the oil paintings in this auction — his collecting quest began.

The Confer Collection is scheduled to be sold during Heritage Auctions’ Comics and Comic Art Signature® Auction Aug. 5-7 in Dallas.

For more information www.ha.com/comics.


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Karen Knapstein

About Karen Knapstein

Karen Knapstein is the editor of Antique Trader magazine. A lifelong collector and student of antiques, she has written dozens of articles on vintage collectibles and their historical context. She lives in Wisconsin with her husband, Joseph, and daughter, Faye. She can be reached at karen.knapstein@fwmedia.com.