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Birger Sandzen oil on board in Circle Auction

Auction Results from Thomas Hart Benton Collection of Original Works 

By Circle Auction | Dec. 2023

 

Campanella Collection of Benton Works

Kansas City’s Circle Auction concluded the sale of 113 original Thomas Hart Benton works this past December. The significant single owner auction was billed: The Campanella Collection, in honor of long time Benton friend Vincent Campanella who originally assembled the group. The auction attracted both local and national attention. The collection, mostly comprised of graphite sketches with a few oil and watercolor studies, sold for a collective $427,864. 

Birger Sandzen oil on board in Circle Auction

Thomas Hart Benton “New York Rooftops” watercolor (1918-20) Sold for $12,500

Local, National, and International Bidding

The auction saw strong bidder participation from the start to finish with 50% of the lots selling above the high estimate. 
Strong local collector interest was bolstered by national participation in the auction. Bidders participated from all across the US; Washington DC to Los Angeles, with 20 states represented in total. Bidders also joined in from overseas, as far away as England and Germany. 
Top lots in the auction included an oil and gouache “Tetons Study For The Sheepherder” which sold for $47,600, “Study For Wyoming Hay” oil on board selling at $34,500, and one of the biggest surprises of the auction, a graphite on paper “Woodland Stream” sold for $19,600 against a pre auction estimate of $2,000 – $3,000. (All sold totals include buyers premium.) View the results of the entire auction here.

original Thomas Hart Benton signed gouache sold by Circle Auction in kansas city

Thomas Hart Benton “Study for Wyoming Hay” oil on board (1963) Sold for $34,500

Benton Auction Press

The auction attracted significant interest in the Kansas City arts community. During the open house preview, attendees ranged from art appraisers to reporters, Kansas City museum staff to long time Benton collectors. The compelling history of the collection, encompassing a 20-year tale of artistic camaraderie, a period of obscurity, and eventual rediscovery, spurred a series of local and national press articles delving into the origins and standout features of the group. The following digital and print publications all ran stories on the auction:

The Collection Reaches a Wider Audience 

Dr. Henry Adams, respected Benton scholar and author, had a chance to examine the collection in person. “This collection of works by Thomas Hart Benton, assembled by Vincent Campanella, is the single largest collection of Benton drawings and studies outside of the Benton Trust . . .” Adams said. “No other body of Benton’s work, in a single place, provides such a varied record of his changes of subject matter and style.” Some of the sketches and watercolors in the collection date back to 1920. These significant art artifacts, some now more than a 100 years old, have been viewed up to this point by very few people. The chain of ownership goes from Benton, to the Campanella family, to a Kansas City collector. Circle Auction co-founder James Fry noted “It has been a joy to have taken part in this chapter of the collection. From the open house preview to the auction, we’re excited to have played a role in increasing the number of Benton fans who can now enjoy this collection.” 

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