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$53,000 for a possible Pollock

The piece may or may not be the work of the abstract artist. But `my gut tells me this is real,' says the winning bidder.

October 27, 2006|From the Associated Press

BELOIT, Wis. — A painter who says he is a longtime admirer of Jackson Pollock submitted the winning $53,000 bid for a painting possibly done by the famed abstract artist.

"I've been looking at them for 40 years. My gut tells me this is real," said Bill Kolb, 62, of Austin, Texas. After a buyer's fee and taxes, Kolb will have to pay $61,215, auction officials said.

Kolb said he does large abstract paintings and has been heavily influenced by Pollock.

The 15-minute auction opened at $25,000 Wednesday evening but dropped to $10,000 when no one bid and then to $5,000 before the bidding heated up. It developed into a contest between Kolb and a Florida woman bidding by telephone until she bowed out. "I was relieved," Kolb said, "and I also thought, 'Oh, my God, what have I got myself into?' " He said he decided to attend the auction while in town visiting his mother.

The painting was found in February among the possessions of Lynn Anderson, 70, a Milwaukee native and renowned architect. Anderson is incapacitated and can't describe the painting's origins. Written on the back of the artwork are the words: "Bought in New York summer 1959 or 60" and "Jackson Pollock." The note also bears Anderson's initials.

The painting was created in a drip style, with lines of black, red and yellow enamel paint dribbled along tan tag board. It's about the size of two sheets of notebook paper placed top to bottom. The style matches that made famous by Pollock, nicknamed "Jack the Dripper" by Time magazine in 1956, the year he died in a car crash. Pollock was known for dripping paint over canvases to create swirling, intricate layers of color and seemingly random designs that he insisted were deliberate.

Pollock paintings sell well. One piece sold for $11.7 million at a 2004 auction, according to Elin Lake-Ewald, president of O'Toole-Ewald Art Associates Inc. in New York. But the painting auctioned this week has not been authenticated or appraised because Anderson's estate was not willing to bear the cost, said Richard Ranft, president of Beloit Auction Service in southern Wisconsin. Kolb said he would look into having the work authenticated. He suspects it might have been cut from a larger work.

Agnes Lee, Anderson's niece, was delighted with the price. "I'll be happy if this gentleman can make something of it.... If he gets it authenticated, more power to him."

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