SCP Auctions is proud to present an array or original works of art from the late NFL player-turned-painter Ernie Barnes as part of its current 2017 Fall Premier Auction. Each of the original pieces originates from the recently closed San Diego Hall of Champions museum and online bidding runs through Sat., November 4. Proceeds from the online auction will benefit the Hall’s ongoing awards and recognition programs, community outreach initiatives, and the Breitbard Hall of Fame, which was recently relocated to the Western Metal Supply Co. Building in Petco Park. The story of Ernie Barnes is one worth telling.
Ernest Eugene Barnes, who was born in 1938, would come to be celebrated as a great painter and charcoal illustrator, well known for his use of elongation and movement within his works. An African-American, he grew up in Durham, North Carolina and although he started at an early age, opportunities for black artists were unheard of in his youth. A self-described chubby kid, Barnes was bullied by classmates and often sought refuge in his sketchbooks, hiding in the less-traveled parts of campus. One day, young Ernest was found drawing in a notebook by the masonry teacher, Tommy Tucker, who was also the junior high school’s weightlifting coach. Tucker was intrigued with Barnes’ drawings so he asked the aspiring artist about his grades and goals. Tucker shared how bodybuilding improved his strength and outlook on life. That one encounter would change Barnes’ life. In his senior year at Hillside High School, he became captain of the football team and won a state title in the shot put. By the time he graduated, he had no less than 26 college football scholarship offers.
The six-foot-three, 250-pound Barnes went on to not only play college football and graduate from North Carolina College at Durham – where he majored in art – but made it to the AFL where he competed for five seasons (1960 to ’64) as an offensive lineman for the New York Titans, San Diego Chargers and Denver Broncos. This up-close perspective of the game he loved would soon translate to his art.
“My drawings portray the moods and excitement of the game of football – a game that does strange things to men,” Barnes once said. “It makes them lose their heads. It makes them hate.”
In December of ‘59, Barnes was drafted by the then-World Champion Baltimore Colts. On Dec. 27, the offensive lineman watched his new team in person beat the New York Giants, 31-16, to win its second straight title. A couple of nights later, Barnes pulled out a canvas and began painting. At age 22, while at Colts training camp, Barnes was interviewed by N.P. Clark, a sportswriter for the Baltimore News-Post newspaper. Until then Barnes had always known by his birth name, Ernest. But when Clark’s article appeared on July 20, 1960, it referred to him as “Ernie” Barnes, which changed his name and life forever. As it turns out, Barnes was the last cut of the Colts’ training camp that summer. After Baltimore released him, the newly formed New York Titans immediately signed him.
In 1965 a fractured right foot ended Barnes’s pro football career and with that development he attended the NFL owners meeting in Houston with the hopes of becoming the league’s official artist. It was there he was introduced to New York Jets owner Sonny Werblin, who was intrigued by Barnes and his art. He paid for the artist to bring his paintings to New York City. They met at a gallery and unbeknownst to Barnes, three art critics were there to evaluate his paintings. They told Werblin that Barnes was “the most expressive painter of sports since George Bellows.” Werblin paid him a year’s salary to get started.
“One day on the playing field I looked up and the sun was breaking through the clouds, hitting the unmuddied areas on the uniforms, and I said, ‘That’s beautiful!’” Barnes once wrote. “I knew then that it was all over being a player. I was more interested in art. So I traded my cleats for canvas, my bruises for brushes, and put all the violence and power I’d felt on the field into my paintings.”
His work, which mostly depicts black people, is kinetic and often vividly bright. The strain of competing bodies is evident in the curves, stretches and muscular exertions of the figures. His most famous painting, “The Sugar Shack,” is a jubilant dancing scene that appeared not only on the cover of recording artist Marvin Gaye’s 1976 album “I Want You” but was also shown during the closing credits of the TV show “Good Times.” Though it’s not sports-related, it’s nonetheless a characteristic work of Barnes with its distinct vibrant tumble of bodies.
In 2009, Barnes died of complications caused by a rare blood disorder at the age of 70. In 2014, the Pro Football Hall of Fame hosted an exhibit featuring Barnes’s work. For the occasion, Bernie, his wife of 25 years, donated her husband’s prized painting entitled “The Bench” to the museum. It hangs there today, an example of Barnes’s ability to find beauty in an otherwise brutal game.
SCP Auctions is proud to present Barnes’ originals within its 2017 Fall Premier auction. Bidding is open to registered bidders only at www.scpauctions.com and initial bidding ends on Sat., Nov. 4, at 5 p.m. PDT. For more information on how to participate and take part in the bidding, please call 949-831-3700. -Terry Melia
Just in time for O.J. Simpson’s potential release from prison … the Juice’s old driver’s license issued during the heart of his murder trial is hitting the auction block! TMZ Sports has learned 2 of O.J.’s old California licenses — including the one issued to him while incarcerated at the L.A. County Jail in 1995 — are going up for auction and could fetch BIG bucks.
The Lombardi name still resonates. An auction of seven Lombardi-related items raised $127,599. The top seller was Vince Lombardi’s 1956 New York Giants World Championship ring, which sold for $50,131. Lombardi was the Giants’ offensive coordinator before becoming head coach of the Green Bay Packers in 1959.
One would think that parting with items owned or used by his father would be difficult for Vince Lombardi Jr. Packers fans treat such items – anything the iconic coach signed, wore or used in the 1960s – with reverence, standing in awed silence in front of displays at the Packers and pro football halls of fame.
The market for graded sports tickets has experienced a major growth spurt over the last few years, especially Super Bowl tickets. SCP Auctions opened some eyes last spring when it sold a complete run of full, unused tickets to games 1-50 for over $100,000.
SCP Auctions has seven lots in its current auction that have direct provenance to the legendary late NFL head coach Vince Lombardi. Collectors now have a chance to own a piece of Lombardi’s legacy by bidding on some of the man’s most coveted pieces including his 1956 New York Giants World Champions 10K gold ring. Each of the items were consigned directly to SCP Auctions by Vince Lombardi Jr., the coach’s only son. Bidding will run through Saturday, Jan. 21.
SCP Auctions’ 2017 Winter Premier online auction is now underway and runs through Saturday, Jan. 21, at SCP Auctions. Coveted items from the family of Babe Ruth, along with cherished pieces from the Vince Lombardi and George Blanda families lead the way in this New Year’s auction that includes 1,021 outstanding lots. Other top lots include 1992 “Dream Team” memorabilia from Christian Laettner; James J. Braddock’s 1935 heavyweight championship belt; a pair of Rocky Marciano’s bout-worn boxing gloves from his 1953 heavyweight title defense versus Jersey Joe Walcott; a Joe DiMaggio game-used bat from the 1947 World Series; and a 1967 Roger Maris St. Louis Cardinals game-worn jersey from the Redbirds’ World Series championship season that’s been graded A9 by MEARS.
Babe Ruth Family Heirlooms
SCP Auctions is pleased to announce that it has secured four incredibly rare, never-before-offered at auction items directly from the family of Babe Ruth. The first piece is a one-of-a-kind, custom-made “NEW YORK” flannel uniform manufactured by A.G. Spalding & Bros. that Ruth wore in 1938 at several stops to help promote the 1939-40 New York World’s Fair. The second item, a beautiful, hand-crafted baseball-themed wooden chest, was awarded to Ruth in 1930 following the New York Yankees 1929 exhibition visit to Sing Sing Prison in Ossining, New York. The third item is a beautifully crafted, hand-carved wooden folk art statue of Ruth from 1933 that stands 22” tall on a base that measures 7.5” wide by 7.5” deep. The final item is a personal scrapbook that was created for Ruth by noted sports agent Christy Walsh in the early 1920’s. Collection Estimate: $350,000+.
The Vince Lombardi Collection
Collectors will now have a chance to own a piece of Vince Lombardi’s legacy by bidding on some of the man’s most coveted pieces including his 1956 New York Giants World Champions 10K gold ring. Each of the items were consigned directly to SCP Auctions by Vince Lombardi Jr., the coach’s only son. Six additional lots from Lombardi’s prolific career will go up for bid including a Patek Philippe wristwatch that was presented to Lombardi on “George Halas Night” (Sept. 25, 1968) by the Chicago Athletic Association; a specially designed Bishop’s Charities Game (Packers vs. Giants, Aug. 10, 1968) Bulova wristwatch; a 1960’S Green Bay Packers World Champions 14K gold & diamond cuff link; and a 1961 congratulatory telegram from United States President John F. Kennedy.
The George Blanda Collection
The prestigious George Blanda Collection is headlined by three incredible AFL Championship rings from the late Hall of Famer’s career (1960 and ’61 with the Houston Oilers, and 1967 with the Oakland Raiders), along with dozens of prestigious awards including 1970 and ’74 NFL Man of the Year honors, and several milestone game balls going back to his college football days at the University of Kentucky. All items offered come directly from his family.
The Christian Laettner Collection
More than two dozen lots chronicling Laettner’s prolific college basketball career at Duke and run with the 1992 U.S. Men’s Olympic Basketball “Dream Team” will go up for bid including his 1992 Naismith College Player of the Year Trophy; a pair of NCAA Final Four rings he earned during his freshman (1989) and sophomore (’90) seasons, respectively; his signed and inscribed 1989-92 Duke Blue Devils game worn shooting shirt; his signed and inscribed 1992 USA Olympic “Dream Team” game-worn warm-up suit; and a ’92 Dream Team multi-signed Official Molten Barcelona Olympic Basketball sporting 18 signatures including all players and coaches.
1947 Joe DiMaggio H&B Professional Model Bat Used in 1947 World Series (MEARS A10, PSA/DNA GU 10)
In 1947 the New York Yankees road to the World Championship went through Brooklyn. The subway series pitted New York led by A.L. MVP Joe DiMaggio against Brooklyn and a rookie named Jackie Robinson. The Yankees prevailed in seven games with DiMaggio hitting home runs in games 3 and 5. Offered here is Joe DiMaggio’s beautiful Hillerich & Bradsby model D29L professional model bat from that historic series. Estimate: $150,000+.
James J. Braddock’s 1935 Ring Magazine Heavyweight Championship Belt
On June 13, 1935, James J. Braddock (the “Cinderella Man”) defeated heavily-favored Max Baer at Madison Square Garden to win the World Heavyweight title. At the time, it was called “the greatest fistic upset since the defeat of John L. Sullivan by Jim Corbett.” It is still considered by many the biggest upset in boxing history. The Ring Magazine presented Braddock with this very Heavyweight Championship belt to honor the epic victory, one that completed a miraculous career comeback for the local working class fighter from Hell’s Kitchen dubbed the “Cinderella Man” by New York newspaper columnist Damon Runyon. Estimate: $60,000+.
Bidding is open to registered bidders only and concludes on Saturday, Jan. 21. The auction will be conducted online at SCP Auctions. -Terry Melia