DENVER – Hindman’s June 3 Wildlife Experience Collection auction was a white-glove sale with proceeds benefiting the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. This uniquely expansive collection of 109 works came from the former Wildlife Experience Museum, which had the mission of inspiring a new generation of conservationists and outdoor enthusiasts by bringing visitors closer to wildlife and fostering the desire to experience the outdoors through its collection of fine art. Paintings by Simon Combes, John Banovich, Robert Bateman and Daniel Smith, as well as monumental bronzes by Kenneth Bunn, Veryl Goodnight, Kent Ullberg and Gerald Balciar saw especially strong results.
Gail and Dave Liniger established The Wildlife Experience Museum in 2002, and their gift of many important wildlife art pieces provided the foundation of the collection, which continued to expand with gifts from other generous donors. Hindman is thrilled that this diverse collection will now be further dispersed for the next generation of collectors to be inspired by, and that the funds raised will support a museum that plays such a pivotal role in science education.
“We are incredibly humbled by this gift and all it will allow us to do to ignite the community’s passion for nature and science,” said George Sparks, president and CEO of the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. “On behalf of the museum, I extend our deepest gratitude to Gail and Dave for their years of service to the museum, to the community and for this wonderful gift.”
Leading the auction was Simon Combes’ oil on canvas Tension at Dawn, which shattered its estimate of $4,000-$6,000 to realize $100,000 and set a new auction record for the artist. This incredibly lifelike and vivid depiction of lions is a prime example of Combes’ talent for capturing African wildlife. Combes was the recipient of numerous awards and has been a stalwart advocate for wildlife conservation.
Bidders eagerly competed for works by North American nature artists John Banovich and Robert Bateman, both of whom have been ardent supporters of wildlife conservation efforts. Banovich’s oil on canvas Tusk realized $53,125 and his 2003 work Palindaba soared past its estimate of $7,000-$9,000 to sell for $46,875. Another highlight from Banovich was The Pod, a painting that more than tripled its estimate to sell for $28,125.
Robert Bateman’s Symbol of the Rainforest – Spotted Jaguar and also his Edge of Night – Timber Wolves saw enthusiastic bidding, realizing $43,750 and $37,500, respectively. His Leopard and Thomson Gazelle Kill was another popular work, which sold for $31,250 against an estimate of $12,000-$18,000. Also, Bateman’s Leopard at Seronera doubled its estimate to realize $25,000.
Bronze sculptures also commanded strong prices, with monumental works by Kenneth Bunn, Kent Ullberg and Veryl Goodnight achieving remarkable results. Kenneth Bunn’s The Look Out emerged as the top bronze, selling for $62,500 against an estimate of $30,000-50,000. Additional highlights included Veryl Goodnight’s The Bronc, which sold for $56,250 against an estimate of $20,000-$40,000; Goodnight’s Back from the Brink, which realized $37,500; Gerald Balcier’s Mother’s Pride, which sold for $34,375; and Ullberg’s Bull Bison from 2003, which sold for $31,250 against an estimate of $12,000-$18,000.
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