Ernie Barnes’ iconic painting “The Sugar Shack” has been featured on Marvin Gaye’s I Want You album and the sitcom Good Times. (There’s also a mock version of it featured on the cover of hip hop duo Camp-Lo’s debut album Uptown Saturday Night.) Now, the painting has been sold for $15.3 million, and it sits in the home of hedge fund manager and entrepreneur Bill Perkins, according to WRAL.
“A childhood dream come true happened tonight,” Perkins wrote on Instagram while posing next to the painting, which depicts 1950s Black people dancing at the Durham Armory, a well-known North Carolina dance hall.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the paintings creator, here’s a little history on Ernie Barnes provided by Blavity:
Barnes, who died in 2009, reflected on the painting when he spoke with the Oakland Tribune in 2002. He said the idea for “The Sugar Shack” was inspired by his childhood growing up in segregated North Carolina. The artist said he remembers “not being able to go to a dance I wanted to go to when I was 11.”
Before he became a painter, Barnes was a professional football player. That’s part of the reason why many of his artworks depicted sporting scenes. His work has also appeared on other album covers, such as the 1984 cover art for The Crusaders’ album Ghetto Blaster and B.B. King’s 2000 project, Makin’ Love Is Good for You.
“I paint when ideas come, and I see a vision of what I want from our common humanity,” Barnes told the Oakland Tribune in 2002.
According to Christie’s auction house, “The Sugar Shack” sold for a price 27 times higher than the most expensive Barnes piece auctioned off prior. It had an estimated sale price of $150,000 to $200,000. Perkins had to compete with 22 other bidders before taking home the legendary prize.