Our cover this month, The Flower Gatherer by Steve Walker, sold (as part of a set of three artworks) for $27,500 at Swann Auction Galleries African-American Art from the Johnson Publishing Company sale on Jan. 30, 2020 in New York City. A Chicago native, Walker was a painter, printmaker and graphic artist known for his depiction of children. His illustrations appeared in various publications owned by the Johnson Publishing Company.
According to the Chicago Sun Times, the works sold at this auction once decorated the Michigan Avenue offices of the Johnson Publishing Company in Chicago. The company, which published well-known magazines Ebony and Jet, among others, filed for bankruptcy back in April 2019, and the auction was part of efforts to sell off the company’s assets. The sale outperformed expectations, more than doubling the expected estimates, with 85% of lots setting new records according to artnet, and raking in nearly $3 million.
Privately held and run by African-American businessman John H. Johnson until his death in 2005, with his daughter serving as the last chairman and chief executive officer, Johnson Publishing Company was your quintessential example of a family business. Our Committee Report on Family Businesses this month will keep you up to date on how to help clients plan for the longevity of their companies.