Red Sox painting by Norman Rockwell sells for $22.6 million

Norman Rockwell's "The Rookie" sold for $22.6 million at a Christie's auction.
(Chitose Suzuki / Associated Press)

The Boston Red Sox are on a losing streak, having whiffed their last seven games. But the baseball team can take modest solace in the fact that the art world still regards it as highly desirable.

A Norman Rockwell painting depicting Red Sox players sold for $22.6 million at a Christie’s auction on Thursday — on the low-end of estimates that the work would go for $20 million to $30 million.

But the return on investment for the previous owner was considerable. The painting last sold in 1986 for a reported $600,000.

“The Rookie (Red Sox Locker Room)” was painted in 1957 and, like a number of Rockwell works, appeared on the cover of the the Saturday Evening Post. The painting depicts Red Sox players sizing up a newly arrived rookie teammate.


The Berkshire Eagle in Massachusetts reported this week that the model for the rookie was Sherman Safford, now 75. Safford told the newspaper that he was 18 at the time Rockwell created the painting and that he was paid $60 for each posing session.

“I wish I had kept those checks; they might be worth more than that now,” he told the Eagle.

The painting was the highest selling item Thursday at Christie’s auction, which brought in a total of $64 million. The auction of American art featured a few other pieces by Rockwell, including works on paper.

The auction record for a Rockwell piece is the $46 million that was paid for the artist’s painting “Saying Grace.” The work sold at a Sotheby’s auction in New York in December.