High Noon for Western Art Lovers, As Coeur d'Alene Rides Into Reno for Its Annual Bank-Busting Sale

High Noon for Western Art Lovers, As Coeur d'Alene Rides Into Reno for Its Annual Bank-Busting Sale
Chief Joseph's Personal War Shirt. Estimate: $800,000-1,200,000
(Coeur d'Alene Art Auction, Hayden, Idaho)

Will this year’s Coeur d’Alene Art Auction, the premier venue for Western art, surpass last year’s sales total of $16,915,681? Hoping to broaden the market, the founders of the auction — Bob Drummond, Stuart Johnson, and Peter Stremmel — have added something new to go with the sweeping Big Sky Country landscapes and Remington bronzes. On offer for the first time, at the Silver Legacy Resort in Reno on July 21, is a Native American artifact, the war shirt that belonged to Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce, known for his legendary rebellion and tragic surrender in 1877. The shirt, above, is expected to fetch at least $800,000 and was the one the chief wore in the portrait painted by Cyrenius Hall in 1878, which appeared on a 1968 U.S. postage stamp.

The auction extended its reach in 2007 to international artists like the Mexican muralist Diego Rivera, whose watercolor "Untitled (Mujeres)," 1939, estimated at $30,000 to 40,000, will be featured in the sale. And the client base has likewise broadened. “Our clients have gone from a small group of predominantly Western collectors to a truly international base,” says Mike Overby, one of the sale organizers. “Last year we sold paintings to buyers from England, Switzerland, Russia, and Germany.”

This year Overby predicts that “true blue-chips will be the safest bet.” Staple Western names like Charles M. Russell, Albert Bierstadt, and Alfred Jacob Miller are all on the roster; other sought-after artists include contemporary practitioners like Howard Terpning, whose "Treasure in the Desert," 2012, was painted specially for the auction (est. $600,000–900,000). Also noteworthy is the sale of Ted and Sue Dalzell’s holdings, featuring 25 works by Edward Borein, including the watercolor-on-paper work "End of the Chase," circa 1920 (est. $20,000–30,000). But the old standbys remain. Sculpture highlights include a life-sized cast of Frederic Remington’s iconic "Bronco Buster," circa 1900, estimated at $200,000 to $300,000.

This article appears in the summer issue of Art+Auction.