Great idea, meet perfect venue. Great product, meet perfect audience. This is the thinking behind a new initiative born from a partnership between Keeneland and Cross Gate Gallery to bring a new company, The Sporting Art Auction, to Lexington.
Greg Ladd, owner of Cross Gate Gallery, in business since 1974, and Bill Thomason, president and CEO of Keeneland, announced the new venture at a press conference in the Keeneland Library on March 26. The first auction is to be held in November of this year.
“Greg Ladd and Cross Gate Gallery are leaders in sporting art and could not be better partners in this venture,” said Thomason in his opening remarks. “This is an exciting thing to be able to do at Keeneland. We like new initiatives and see it as part of our mission. It’s a commitment to the community we take seriously,” he added.
Ladd has long had a reputation for bringing the finest equine and sporting art to Lexington and for representing the best artists in the sporting art world. “Keeneland is such a special place,” he said. “It’s world-renowned, but there was a hole in all that could be offered to people visiting Keeneland. The time was right to do something special. This Sporting Art Auction has the potential to become the most important of its kind in the world. We have all the right elements to make it a success — a world-class venue in Keeneland, which provides in-house expertise in conducting major auctions, and the ability to reach the most enthusiastic sporting art collectors in the world through Keeneland’s racing and sales clientele.”
Walt Robertson, Keeneland’s vice president of sales, is excited about the coming event and the opportunity to bring the fine art auction to “the passionate horse and art lovers. We are fortunate to be able to partner with someone of Greg’s caliber and level of expertise.”
Ladd is working to locate the best of equine and sporting art to bring to Keeneland. “Christie’s and Sothebys no longer feature sporting art in their own auction. We are confident this will be the premiere sporting art auction in the world,” added Robertson.
“We are acquiring art now,” Ladd said. “I am traveling and tracking down some extraordinary pieces, both paintings and sculpture. It’s my job to find the artwork. We will have about 200 lots. We’ll do a catalog; we’ll have an online site for bids, as well as live bids and phone bids.”
Ladd has already acquired two major art pieces for the first November auction: “Blue Prince” by Sir Alfred Munnings, one of the world’s finest equine artists; and a seven-foot mural by the late Leroy Neiman, the famed American artist known for his unique style and brightly colored artwork.
Art will be on display in various locales throughout Keeneland: in the sales pavilion during the sales, in the clubhouse during the races and in the library on pedestals and easels.
Proceeds from the auction will benefit Keeneland’s nonprofit initiatives and the Keeneland Library Foundation.
“This complements the way we sell horses and adds to the experience of being at Keeneland.” said Thomason. “We welcome it. People who feel passionate about horses and sporting art are going to love this.”
The first auction will be held during the November 2013 horse sales.
Questions and art inquiries should be directed to Cross Gate Gallery.