Art auction gains $1.15 million for general scholarship fund

LINDSBORG, KAN., August 22, 2011—Bethany College expects to have a net gain in excess of $1.15 million for its general scholarship fund by de-accessioning eleven works by Birger Sandzén and a grouping of Native American pottery. The auction was held on August 13 to 14 in Santa Fe, N.M., by Manitou Galleries, a firm experienced in both Sandzén and Native American artwork.

“The auction was very successful and will greatly support Bethany’s general scholarship fund,” said Bethany College President Edward F. Leonard III. Bethany awards over $6 million in scholarships every year.

Summer in the Mountains was the largest Sandzén painting in the group at 60 by 80 inches. It sold for $632,500, which broke the world record for the sale of a Sandzén painting at auction. The previous record was made in 2006 when a painting sold for $492,800. Both Summer in the Mountains and Autumn Symphony – Smoky Hill River exceeded their estimated prices.

President Leonard and Vice President of Finance Bob Schmoll attended the auction on behalf of Bethany. “The auction’s atmosphere was one of high-energy and enthusiasm and it gave great exposure for Bethany College,” said Schmoll. “Bob Nelson [of Manitou Galleries] gave a short presentation about Bethany and highlighted the college throughout the event. It was a great opportunity to share Bethany’s story and history with Sandzén.”

“It was a great honor to represent Bethany College in the sale of the Birger Sandzén paintings to further their mission toward quality education,” said Bob Nelson, owner of Manitou Galleries. “The prices garnered for the pottery pieces, as well as for the artworks, speak for themselves in the highly competitive art and collectibles worlds. Results were extraordinary, yet expected, due to the high quality of the pieces offered. The entire Auction in Santa Fe staff and I feel privileged to have made history, yet paved a way for the future, all at the same time.”

Bethany announced in June that it would de-accession eleven works by Birger Sandzén and selected pieces of Native American pottery. Bethany used de-accessioning, a common management practice of accumulated artwork, due to its limited display space.

“We don’t have the capacity to showcase and care for all artwork. Some of them hadn’t even been on display in years,” said Leonard. “This was a good opportunity to support Bethany’s educational mission and share some beautiful pieces.”

The college will retain a multitude of works by Sandzén and representative pieces of the pottery. The decision to de-accession some art was made after a donor willed Bethany a Sandzén painting in 2009 with the intent that the college would sell it. That prompted a review of Bethany’s inventory for other pieces that had been given with the intent they would be sold.

The Bethany College Board of Directors moved to de-accession some of its works in May 2010, and the pieces were selected by the Bethany College Art Committee, comprised on faculty, staff, and a representative from Birger Sandzén Memorial Gallery (located on Bethany’s campus although not owned or operated by the college). The Bethany College Board of Directors reaffirmed its motion to de-accession artwork in November 2010.

All de-accessioned pieces had been purchased by Bethany or had been given with the express intent to sell. “We were very careful to honor donor wishes, and we extend our gratitude to those donors who made this possible,” said Leonard. “We project we will spend $6.2 million this year on student scholarships, and we are excited about the opportunities these funds will provide.”

Bethany College, established by Swedish Lutheran immigrants in 1881, is a college of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The mission of Bethany College is to educate, develop and challenge individuals to reach for truth and excellence as they lead lives of faith, learning and service.

Contact:
Bob Schmoll
(785) 227-3380, ext. 8116
schmollb@bethanylb.edu
Bethany College
335 East Swensson Street
Lindsborg, KS 67456