Joy of $10M: First Bob Ross painting for sale

Who knew that 30 minutes of work could be worth nearly $10 million?

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A Minneapolis gallery is selling the first painting Bob Ross did in the first episode of “The Joy of Painting,” The Associated Press reported.

The painting is called “A Walk in the Woods,” and was created for the show in an episode that aired on Jan. 11, 1983. Ross painted it in Falls Creek, Virginia, with it being sold months later to raise funds for the local PBS station. Typically, he made three versions of a painting for the show: one as a reference, one during taping and a third for instructional books. Eventually, Ross would mark the one he painted while taping. For this painting, analysts at Bob Ross Inc. compared the brush strokes on the canvas to the television show and they were a match, meaning the painting was the one he did while filming, The Washington Post reported.

A station volunteer bought it for an undisclosed amount of money, but was probably less than $100, The Washington Post reported. She took it home, where it hung for 39 years. It was later sold to Ryan Nelson, owner of Modern Artifact gallery in Minneapolis, who has bought and sold about 100 Ross paintings. Nelson priced it at a “not for sale” price of $9.85 million, the AP reported.

In all, Ross painted more than 400 works of art that consisted of “happy little trees” made with large bristle brushes and palette knives.

“We have avoided painting for so long because I think all of our lives we’ve been told that you have to go to school half your life, maybe even have to be blessed by Michelangelo at birth, to ever be able to paint a picture,” Ross said during the first episode. “And here, we want to show you that that’s not true. That you can paint a picture.”

Ross hosted “The Joy of Painting” from 1983 until 1994. He died in 1995 from lymphoma, The Washington Post reported. Ross was 52 years old.

Nearly 30 years after his death, he remains popular. A YouTube channel featuring Ross painting his art has 5.63 million subscribers and features all of “The Joy of Painting” episodes.

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