Cross Gate Gallery is the family-owned gallery at the helm of the hugely successful Sporting Art Auction (http://thesportingartauction.com/), the leading auction of its kind. This year’s auction will be held on November 21, 2016, at the world-famous Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Kentucky.
Founded in 1974 by art enthusiast and University of Kentucky graduate Greg Ladd, Cross Gate Gallery specializes in equine-related sporting art. Its home, Lexington, Kentucky, is known as the “Horse Capital of the World,” and its neighbors include the Kentucky Horse Park, many of the world’s most prominent horse farms, and famed racetrack Keeneland, which also happens to be the largest Thoroughbred auction house on the planet.
While auction giants Sotheby’s and Christie’s once reigned as sporting art kings, Cross Gate’s Sporting Art Auction in the heart of the Bluegrass has risen to become the most high profile auction in the sporting art world. Ladd attributes the event’s success to the handpicked, high-quality inventory, and to Cross Gate’s collaboration with Keeneland. Says Ladd, “We bring an eye for quality to the table, personally evaluating each piece before taking it to Keeneland, one of the most prominent institutions in horse racing. Every player in the horse business lands at this notable establishment, one that also happens to be where the most successful Thoroughbreds, including this year’s Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winners, were sold.”
Cross Gate’s first collaboration with Keeneland for the Sporting Art Auction came in 2013. Ladd’s art auction had a successful stint at Saratoga’s Fasig-Tipton from 1996-1998, but family commitments - a wife, four children, and two dogs - pulled him back to Lexington. Keeneland approached Ladd to bring the Sporting Art Auction home, too, and eventually, the two joined forces to run the auction at Keeneland.
“Keeneland is pleased to work with Greg Ladd and Cross Gate Gallery and host the Sporting Art Auction, which in its short history has become one of our most anticipated events of the year,” Keeneland President and CEO Bill Thomason said. “The Central Kentucky community, horse industry and sporting art collectors have enthusiastically supported the auction and confirmed the strong demand for quality sporting art.”
The Sporting Art Auction collection consists of 175 high-quality pieces of fine sporting art, American paintings and sculpture from a selection of both renowned masters and talented new artists.
The numbers speak for themselves when measuring the success of the Sporting Art Auction. In its three years at Keeneland, the auction has consistently turned a profit, selling unprecedented percentages of its collections. In 2015, 89 percent of the available lots were sold. More than 37 percent of those works brought final bids at or above their listed high estimate value. Other notable numbers from past auctions:
- 2015: Gross sales were $2,824,085. The top sale was Sir Alfred James Munnings’ signed painting “Mon Talisman, Chantilly, 1928.” It sold for $252,500, including buyer premium. Two other pieces in the auction also fetched six-figure prices: Andre Pater’s “Early Summer” for $161,000, and “Longchamp Paddock” by renowned American sporting artist LeRoy Neiman sold for $138,000.
- 2014: The auction raised $2.34 million, including the $149,500 sale of the massive triptych “Hercules” by American artist Ashley Collins. Three other pieces sold for more than six figures.
- .2013: Gross sales exceeded $3.1 million, which included the $291,000 sale of a 17-foot mural by LeRoy Neiman.
This year’s auction is accepting consignments from all corners of the globe for its catalog through July 1. Paintings are displayed in the Keeneland Sales Pavilion during both the track’s September and November sales, and during the October racing session, when many of horse racing’s elite converge on Lexington.