A New York City man who once walked dogs and fell into possession of a piece of art by abstract artist Chuck Close had high hopes the art would sell for eight figures, but when put to auction, it fell a bit short, according to reports.
The New York Post reported that 68-year-old Mark Herman is a former dog walker who was living on Social Security.
Herman told the New York Times he had a vision – while he was high on mushrooms – that the Chuck Close painting he had in his possession would be worth $10 million.
On Tuesday, Heritage Auctions in Dallas put the piece up for bid, and the far-out visions and high hopes Herman had while on ‘shrooms quickly diminished.
“I’m really disappointed,” he told the newspaper. “But then, I think if I had a lot of money, it would put a lot of pressure on me.
And that’s the last thing I need,” he added.
The paper reported that Herman was given the 6-foot abstract nude painting by former lawyer Isidore Silver.
Herman walked Silver’s toy poodle nearly six years ago, and the two became close friends.
In the 1960s, Silver represented Close in a First Amendment lawsuit against the University of Massachusetts. Silver reportedly told Herman he had one of Close’s works in a closet.
As Silver’s health declined, the 87-year-old told Herman in March he could have the Close painting.
“He basically said, ‘Take the painting,’” Herman told the New York Times.
Silver died days later, and after doing a little bit of research, Herman learned one of Close’s paintings sold for $4.8 million.
After learning of the value Close’s artworks have held in the past, Herman reached out to Sotheby’s auction house, and it agreed to sell the art piece.
Herman told the publication he was on “cloud nine” after dropping the artwork off at the auction house, as he was expecting to make eight figures in the sale.
But a day before the Close art was set to go to auction, Sotheby’s yanked it and sent Herman a $1,742 bill for preparing the canvas.
The auction house learned the artist’s estate did not have any record of the painting Herman had in his possession, and Close had died in 2021, so nobody could confirm its authenticity.
However, an archivist at the University of Massachusetts made a discovery that kept Herman’s hopes for a better life alive.
The archivist, Caroline White, found a photo of the painting in a 1967 issue of the student paper, which confirmed it was a work of Close’s, the New York Times reported.
Having learned the news, Herman agreed to have Heritage Auctions sell the artwork, and he watched it go up for bid live on Tuesday.
Heritage estimated the piece would sell for between $20,000 and $30,000. Just before the auction began, the art had fetched $40,000, and it remained there until the end of the auction.
The winner, Long Island Lawyer James Pincow, told the New York Times he purchased the painting with his dad because they were intrigued by its backstory and believed the art to be undervalued.