Bob Ross Fortune: Millionaire Artist Who Made More Art Than Picasso But Sold Virtually None | Celebrity News | Showbiz and television
The famous painter and cultural icon was lost to the world on July 4, 1995, exactly 27 years ago. The American artist enjoyed an illustrious career before his death, creating more than 30,000 works in less than 40 years – three times as many as Picasso, who produced 13,500 works over around 80 years.
However, despite Ross’ sheer volume of originals, collectors will have a hard time trying to get their hands on any of his artwork, as they are notoriously hard to find.
Ross was worth around $10m (£8.24m) at the time of his death, compared to $19.18m (£15.80m) today after adjusting for inflation.
However, the star had worked hard for his fortune, and a few escapes would lead to his mark and legacy spanning decades after his passing.
While his show, The Joy Of Painting, was a smash hit, Ross’ wealth also came from his range of art supplies, with Bob Ross Inc. earning $15m (£12.36m) a year in 1991.
Due to the way his tutorials would be filmed, Ross would often end up painting three copies of the same image for a single episode, leaving him with over 30,000 paintings over his lifetime.
However, original Ross artwork for sale is incredibly difficult to find, and when it appears on the market, the price often exceeds $10,000 (£8,000).
The majority of the paintings Ross did for The Joy of Painting still belong to Bob Ross Inc., which was passed on to the Kowalski family to run after Ross passed away.
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Ross reportedly made it known that he didn’t want his art turned into financial tools.
Additionally, artwork specifically for The Joy Of Painting has been categorized as “work for hire”, indicating that the company owns the art rather than the artists.
More than a thousand Ross originals, probably worth millions, lie in the company’s offices in cardboard boxes.
Current Bob Ross Inc. president Joan Kowalski told The Hustle that it “never occurred to me” of the company that “anyone would want it.”
After becoming aware of the demand, the company maintained its stance against selling the artwork, with Kowalski saying it hopes to “preserve the mythological wonderment” of Ross.
Ross had dropped out of high school and worked for a time as a carpenter with his father, not necessarily showing an increased interest or talent for a career in the arts.
An accident in the workshop would almost destroy what would be his claim to fame as he lost his left index finger.
Luckily, this wouldn’t affect her ability to paint or hold a palette.
At age 18, he began working in the United States Air Force in 1961 as a Medical Records Technician.
Ross rose to the rank of Master Sergeant and served in Alaska, spotting the snow and breathtaking mountains that fans would soon discover as recurring themes in his art.
During his 20-year career in the military, Ross was expected to be the signature villainous leader of his rank, but it made him swear never to raise his voice when he left the military.
Ross was first exposed to paint while attending an art class at the Anchorage USO club, which provides entertainment for members of the armed forces.
As his teachers became more interested in abstract painting, Ross found himself at odds with them, saying in an interview with The New York Times, “They would tell you what makes a tree, but they wouldn’t tell you how to paint a tree. .”
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He began developing his speed painting skills during his daily work breaks and continued to hone this craft after leaving the military.
While working as a part-time bartender, his landscape painting in Alaska began to be a commercial success, with his income from the sale of paintings exceeding what he earned in the military.
In 1981 Ross retired from the Army as a Staff Sergeant and returned to Florida to tutor art for the Alexander Magic Art Supplies Company.
One of his students, Annette Kowalski, encouraged him to go into business for himself, pooling his own savings with Ross and his wife to form Bob Ross Inc.
Soon The Joy Of Painting was launched, running for just over 11 years from 1983 to 1994.
However, the timelessness of these episodes saw reruns continue to air today, with clips on YouTube receiving millions of views despite the platform only being created 10 years after Ross’s death.
Ross was known for his signature hair, which he originally styled because it was one of the cheapest hairstyles to maintain.
By the time Ross had gained enough traction to switch him up, his afro was far too iconic to get rid of, leaving him stuck with it for the rest of his career.
His deliberate choice of attire, usually jeans and a plaid shirt, was decided because he thought it would be timeless.
His tutorials no longer just serve as guides for budding artists, with sayings like, “We’re not wrong; we just have happy accidents” and his now legendary “happy trees” are now synonymous with pop culture.
The star would have always expected to die young, suffering from multiple health issues throughout his life, and he sadly passed away at the age of 52.