A painting that served as the cover for one of legendary soul singer Marvin Gaye’s albums has sold at auction for nearly $15.3 million.
Ernie Barnes’ cheerful depiction of a frenetic dance hall scene, titled ‘The Sugar Shack’, has been sold to Bill Perkins, a hedge fund manager and entrepreneur, after 10 minutes of bidding by more than 22 bidders, confirmed auction house Christie’s.
According to Christie’s, the final sale price of “The Sugar Shack” was 27 times higher than the most expensive Barnes work to sell before it. It also exceeded its estimated sale price of $150,000 to $200,000.
The painting depicts a group of black dancers enjoying a night at the Durham Armoury. The Armory was a famous dance hall in North Carolina in 1952.
Barnes, who died in 2009, was born in North Carolina in 1938 and often drew on his own experiences growing up in the southern United States during the Jim Crow era in his portrayals of social moments and imagery of daily black life.
In a 2002 interview, in which the Oakland Tribune described Barnes as the “Picasso of the black art world”, the artist said he got the idea for “The Sugar Shack” while reflecting on his childhood and “not being able to go to a dance that I wanted to go to when I was 11.”
‘The Sugar Shack’ has become a widely recognized image – thanks in part to its appearance on Gaye’s 1976 album ‘I Want You’ and its use over four seasons of the life-centric sitcom ‘Good Times’. of a poor family in the housing estates of Chicago.
Barnes was a professional American football player before becoming a painter, and many of his works depict sporting scenes, such as basketball and football games. Barnes told the Oakland Tribune in 2002, “I paint when ideas come and I see a vision of what I want from our common humanity.”
Barne’s work has appeared on other album covers over the years, including a 1984 cover for The Crusaders and BB King’s 2000 album “Making Love is good for you”.