Judgment of Paris Coeur d’Alene’s auction of Harry Jackson’s estate recalls a sobering moment for the artist as a collector.

harry-jackson_cody-wyoming-artist_bronzes_coeur-dalene-art-auctionI bet Harry Jackson would have been happy to find out artworks from his estate were sold at the prestigious Coeur d’Alene Art Auction in Reno, Nevada, on July 23, 2011.

The Cody, Wyoming, artist, who died at the age of 87 on April 25, knew all too well a collector’s pain of losing art that had not been bought through authentic dealers or directly from the artist.

His heartbreak wasn’t a result of being duped into buying fakes; his 1860 pencil-and-ink sketches by 19th-century French impressionist Paul Cézanne were the real deal.  Jackson had purchased them for $80 from a peasant at Air-en-Provence in 1954. The peasant told Jackson that his father had been the artist’s caretaker.

But when Jackson tried to sell some of the sketches in 1962, he had a rude awakening. Professor John Rewald of Columbia University, a Cézanne specialist who was authenticating the sketches, noticed a seal of the Louvre museum in Paris. Rewald notified the FBI, and agents confiscated the drawings.

The sketches, it turned out, had been stolen from the Cézanne museum in Air-en-Provence, after being transferred there from the Louvre.

For five years, Jackson fought to recover the drawings. He finally withdrew his claim in 1967, according to Associated Press news reports published after the artist formally returned the drawings to the French on November 15: “Jackson, in his western drawl, declared: ‘I was mad. Darn mad. But now I have come full circle and am returning the drawings, which is what I would have done immediately if the FBI had not taken the drawings and I had just been notified by Rewald.’”

The collectors who purchased Jackson’s bronzes at the auction won’t have to feel such pain. They know this art is rightfully theirs.

The Coeur d’Alene Art Auction hammered in at nearly $7.86 million.

What do you think?

Meghan Saar

Meghan Saar is the editor of True West, the world’s oldest, continuously published Western Americana magazine. She has worked in niche publication content development since 2002, and she has a B.S. in Journalism and Creative Writing from the University of Arizona—Tucson.