An art auction today will put a little taste of Sotheby’s in downtown Scottsdale. More than 200 wildlife and Western paintings worth more than $6 million will be up for bid at the Scottsdale Art Auction, the first event of its kind in the Southwest.
"All the big auctions are in New York City," said Jinger Richardson, co-owner of the Legacy Gallery, 7178 E. Main St., which partnered with a gallery in South Carolina and one in New York to host the event. "We’re just trying to bring a little piece of that to Scottsdale."
The auction, which begins at 1:30 p.m., will feature art from some of the most famous Southwestern artists in the nation. The art will sell from $1,200 to more than $500,000 a piece, Richardson said.
The three items expected to bring in the most are works by Maynard Dixon, Charles M. Russell and Albert Bierstadt, whose paintings of the Colorado Rockies in the mid-1800s spurred the U.S. government to make portions of the mountain range part of the state park system. Richardson said the three likely will sell for close to $2 million collectively.
John Little, the city’s downtown executive director, said a large art auction is just what Scottsdale needs.
"These kind of art events are really important to downtown and further solidifies our reputation as one of the premier art centers of the country," he said.
Little said the auction also will bring economic benefits.
"The people coming in for this are here not only for the auction, but to spend time in our city," he said. "They will stay in our hotels, visit our merchants and dine in our restaurants. This will have a positive economic impact."
About 300 major art collectors and bidders are in town from across the country to attend the auction and take in some of the local sites.
Jack A. Morris Jr., a coowner of South Carolina’s Morris & Whiteside Galleries, one of three galleries hosting the event, said Scottsdale is the ideal destination for members of the art community.
"Despite the fact Scottsdale has been a mecca for contemporary Western paintings and sculptures, there has never been a major Western art auction here," he said. "With all due respect to other cities, collectors would rather go to Scottsdale than Dallas or Houston."
All those who attend the auction must purchase a $35 catalog by calling the Legacy Gallery at (480) 945-1113. To view the online catalog, visit