Long story short, Heritage Auctions is selling six Donald Duck paintings by the great Carl Barks, and the paintings will be displayed at the Heritage Auctions location at 445 Park Avenue (at 57th Street) through Monday, February 14th.
Unusually for Disney, Barks, in later life, was granted a royalty-free license by the studio to create and sell oil paintings of the duck characters he immortalized in comics form. The paintings — color saturated and cheerful — are highly sought after collectibles which sell in six figures. The paintings on display are from the collection of Kerby Confer.
Unmentioned in the description of the painting above, July Fourth in Duckburg contains human caricatures that seem to be of well known fans/collectors of the period. The guy in the Funnyworld T-shirt would be Mike Barrier, creator of that animation zine, for instance. Click for a larger version.
Six original paintings of Disney’s Scrooge McDuck – the curmudgeon uncle to Donald, with his vast money bin brimming with gold – from the hand of his creator, Carl Barks, will be on display at Heritage Auctions’ 445 Park Avenue (at 57th) location from Tuesday, Feb. 1 through Monday, Feb. 14. The exhibition is open to the public.
After the New York exhibition, the six paintings will travel back to Dallas as part of Heritage Auctions’ Feb. 24-25 Signature® Comics & Comic Art Auction. The six Scrooge McDuck paintings come to auction from the collection of Maryland radio executive Kerby Confer, an unrivalled grouping of Disney art that Confer is currently releasing to the bidding public.
“In the hierarchy of popular Disney artists, few rank higher in the hearts of fans than Carl Barks,” said Barry Sandoval, Director of Operations for the Comics Department at Heritage, “long known to Disney aficionados as ‘The Good Duck Artist.’ Most people have never seen one of his originals in person, and the exhibits that have been held were often not open to the general public, so this is a golden opportunity for every New York comics fan to view these masterpieces face-to-face.”
Over the last decade, the best examples of Barks’ work have routinely sold for as much as $200,000, and a few of the paintings that New Yorkers will get the chance to view up close and personal are among the most important of all the canvases that the Barks ever created.
“None of the books, Barks’ catalogue raisonné, or even the expensive prints have really nailed the colors 100% accurately,” said Sandoval. “They need to be seen in person to get the full effect.”
First among equals is, unquestionably, Barks’ July Fourth in Duckburg oil painting, which set a new auction record for a piece of comic artwork when it was sold almost 35 years ago on July 4, 1976, for the then-staggering sum of $6,400. It remains one of the most desirable Barks works by virtue of being the only 1970s Barks painting with the complete cast of Duckburg characters, from Uncle Scrooge down to Cornelius Coot and every character in-between. It carries an estimate of $150,000+.
Barks’ Business as Usual (1976) offers an archetypal Scrooge McDuck scene – an ordinary day inside the fabulous Scrooge McDuck Money Bin, that incredible three cubic acres of cash that sits atop Killmotor Hill in Duckburg – as the World’s Richest Duck works amidst his treasure alongside Donald, Huey, Dewey, and Louie – in remarkable and vibrant detail in this painting from what was arguably the great artist’s peak period. It also carries a pre-auction estimate of $150,000+.
Voodoo Hoodooed (1974), a re-creation of one of the most intriguing Scrooge McDuck stories, which was originally released in 1949 and subsequently not allowed, by Disney decree, to be reprinted, will provide a distinct thrill to any collector that ever thumbed through a well-worn copy of the Dell comic, itself a must-have item for serious Barks fans.
In Nobody’s Spending Fool (1974) we get a first-hand, exquisitely detailed view of what it was that made Uncle Scrooge such a rich old duck as a bevy of frontier malcontents, swindlers, grifters, and money-grabbers watch a determined Scrooge march past, with every ounce of gold safely secured in his bag. Few Barks paintings more clearly express the depth of Scrooge’s character.
Rounding out the Kerby Confer Collection offerings on display in New York are Barks’ Only a Poor Old Duck (1974), a scene featuring Uncle Scrooge transferring all his hard cash to Money Lake, and Donald trying in vain to row them across it, and Rumble Seat Roadster (1975), a sweet Donald Duck scene featuring the beloved roadster that has seen him through thick and thin, always with the same license plate number 313.
Also on display in Manhattan, though not from the Confer Collection, is Barks’ 1972 oil painting Christmas Carolers with Huey, Dewey, and Louie harmonizing to “Silent Night” outside Uncle Donald’s window while, inside, Pluto howls along, denying poor Donald the chance to get some sleep, in this terrific Christmas-themed painting.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.