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Last week, the Sugar Shack painting sold for over $15 million as one of the most famous Black art paintings of all time.
Recognized as a staple artwork, particularly in the Black community, artist Ernie Barnes’ 1976 painting The Sugar Shack sold at a New York City auction on May 12 for just under $15.3 million per Madame Noire.
The painting’s historic sale went to Houston-based entrepreneur and energy trader Bill Perkins.
Black art uniquely tells our history.
Per Madame Noire, its $15.275 million price tag was 27 times higher than Barnes’ previously set auction record and much higher than The Sugar Shack‘s estimated sale price of $150,000 to $200,000 going into last week’s Christie’s auction.
“I stole it — I would have paid a lot more,” Perkins told The New York Times after his purchase. “For certain segments of America, it’s more famous than the Mona Lisa.”
The iconic Black art depicts a lively scene filled with Black dancers and musicians — all enveloped in their bliss-filled bodies, organic rhythms, and shared space.
The piece is painted in a style classified as Black Romantic.
Black art can be appreciated long after its artists hang up their paintbrush.
According to Madame Noire, the Houstonian warded off 22 other bidders in an intense 10-minute long battle for the painting. Later on Instagram, he later penned: “A childhood dream come true happened tonight.”
The Sugar Shack is most recognizable for its feature throughout several seasons of the 70s sitcom Good Times, and its display on Marvin Gaye’s fourteenth studio album, 1976’s I Want You.
Barnes — a former NFL football player — said in a 2002 interview that The Sugar Shack was inspired during his childhood in Durham, North Carolina and “not being able to go to a dance I wanted to go to when I was 11.”
Barnes passed away due to leukemia in 2009 at the age of 70, according to Deadline. Nevertheless, the portrait he painted continues to resonate with art enthusiasts and lovers of Black art alike.