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Art Auction is a Successful Fundraiser for American Saddlebred Museum

by Susan Harris


The American Saddlebred Museum held its fourth annual auction of art, antiques, and rare books on Saturday, July 14 in the “Round Barn” at The Red Mile, Lexington, Kentucky. This year’s sale topper brought a healthy $42,000 bid despite the overall sales total not reaching last year’s record.


The historic Round Barn at The Red Mile


The standing-room-only crowd enjoyed the festivities which including a preview party with food and beverages graciously hosted by Laurel Nelson, Phillipa Sledge, Vicki Reed, and Kenny and Ceil Wheeler.


 A full house for the 4th annual art auction


Among the seventy-five items auctioned were original oil paintings, watercolors, lithographs, antique posters, books, sculptures, furniture, and other items. This was a consignment auction with the Museum receiving ten percent from each seller’s proceeds and ten percent buyers’ premiums on top of the selling prices. The auction raised more than $37,500 for the Museum before expenses.


Walt Robertson and Bill Carrington have served as auctioneer and auction reader respectively for all four years. Museum volunteers and staff were also busy taking telephone bids throughout the auction.


Interest in the work of George Ford Morris continued to be strong on the part of buyers and consignors. In fact, 26 of the 75 items listed were Morris works and realized approximately seventy percent of the overall auction proceeds. These included original works, lithographs, photographs, and a book. Eight of the top ten selling items were works by Morris including the top seven.


Topping the sale was “Messenger” (circa 1955), a vibrant oil on board that brought $42,000.



Vicki Reed hands back the signed ticket to

Gayle Strickroot for top-selling Messenger.


Second high seller at $21,000 was “Cascade and Robert Moreland,” an original oil on board, signed and dated 1918 depicting the WGC ridden by breeder/
owner/trainer/exhibitor Robert Moreland.

Cascade and Robert Moreland brought

the second highest bid of $21,000


John Scheidt signs the ticket for Cascade


Of particular note was the third highest selling work, “Miss Budweiser,” an original charcoal signed and dated 1952 that brought $17,000. The catalog describes this work as being the result of a artist competition put on by August Busch to honor a mare, loaned by Busch to the US Olympic team, that subsequently won first place in the 1952 Olympic trials. According to George Ford Morris’s brother, Busch declared this picture the competition winner, but Morris refused to sell the work to him. Morris considered it to be one of his best works, but did another for Mr. Busch. It was only fitting after all these years that the winning bidder for this artwork was Kenny Wheeler, a descendant of August Busch. As Wheeler’s wife Ceil stated, “It is now where it belongs.” So true. 


Kenny Wheeler signs the ticket for

Miss Budweiser with Kim Skipton looking on.


One of the more unusual items included a pair of chromium plated brass Saddlebred hood ornaments (c. 1940’s) that sold for $2,300. A collection of Wing Commander/Dodge Stable memorabilia attracted spirited bidding and a final bid of $2,700. This historic collection included, among other items, two Lennox gold-rimmed plates, 21 farm calendars and Wing Commander’s 1954 Lexington Jr. League 5-Gaited Grand Championship tri-color ribbon.  Unlike prior years, there was only one consignment whose reserve was not met.

Also seen at the Museum’s Auction:


(left to right)

Wayne Lowry, Carson Kressley, Ceil Wheeler,

Laurel Nelson, Kenny Wheeler, and J.C. Pierce


Lynn Via and her daughter Owen Weaver




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