The Recent Sale of Amy Sherald’s ‘Welfare Queen’ Symbolizes the Urgent Need for Resale Royalties and Economic Equity for Artists
by Cheryl Finley & Lauren van Haaften-Schick & Christian Reeder & Amy Whitaker
Published November 22 in Artnet News
Excerpt: This past Wednesday, November 17, a regal portrait by the celebrated artist Amy Sherald sold for $3.9 million, double its $1.2 million-to-$1.8 million estimate, in the 20th-century and contemporary evening sale at Phillips New York. Welfare Queen(2012), listed in the catalogue as hailing from “a private East Coast collector,” was consigned by Dr. Imani Perry, the Hughes-Rogers Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University. In an essay for Phillips, Professor Perry recalled acquiring the work from the artist, and credited Sherald’s generosity in allowing her to use a payment plan to purchase the piece:
I was hardly in a position to begin collecting art. My budget was tight, my responsibilities to others were high. But I shyly approached Sherald about purchasing the piece over time. Her generosity was heart-warming and frankly life changing. It was the first significant piece of art I ever owned.
Sherald, however, was surprised when she learned of Perry’s intention to sell at auction. The artist wrote in a statement to Culture Type in response to the sale:
Despite its common occurrence, it can feel personal when a painting is put up for auction by a collector. Especially, in this case, when it’s someone you know and worked with to accommodate an alternative payment arrangement to acquire the piece in the first place. It is every artist’s hope that collectors will do the right thing by the work and for the artist by leveraging the gallery to assist in placing the work.