Heritage sells Rockwell study for ‘Tough Call’ for $1.68M


1948 original study for Norman Rockwell’s ‘Tough Call,’ auctioned by Heritage for $1.68 million. Image courtesy of Heritage Auctions


DALLAS – Heritage Auctions recorded 14 six-figure sales in its recent Platinum Night Sports auction, but it is the seven-figure result that has both the sports and the art world buzzing after a protracted online bidding war extended into the early morning hours on Sunday.

A study for one of master illustrator Norman Rockwell’s (American, 1894-1978) most memorable baseball-theme artworks, titled Tough Call, was bid to $1.68 million in the auction that grossed $10.7 million.

“I need to credit my colleagues in the Art division for the assist on this one,” said 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 whose final version would ultimately appear on 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.

Visit Heritage Auctions online at www.ha.com.

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