16 February 2005

Dogs Playing Poker?

Guess which famously tacky paintings just fetched more than half a million?


Poker-Playing Dogs Turn Up Trumps With Auction Record
By Our Foreign Staff

TWO paintings from the famed Dogs Playing Poker series were bought at an auction in New York for a total of almost $600,000 (£316,000) on Tuesday night.

The paintings, titled A Bold Bluff and Waterloo, are from a series of 16 by Cassius Marcellus Coolidge, which were commissioned in 1903 for an advertising agency in St Paul, Minnesota. The sellers had expected them to fetch around $50,000.

The paintings capture moments in a poker game played by five dogs, among them a St Bernard which ends up collecting the pot on a bluff. The winning bid came from a private collector from New York whose name was withheld.

Alan Fausel, director of paintings at Doyle New York, which handled the auction, said that it set an auction record for Coolidge, whose previous top sale was $74,000.

The first of the two paintings shows the St Bernard with a weak hand of cards as the rest of the crew maintain their best poker faces; the second shows the St Bernard raking in the pot, to the dismay of his fellow players.

Caroline Rhea, a comedian from Manhattan who attended the auction, told the New York Daily News that the Coolidge paintings were the highlight of the event. “It’s not the Mona Lisa,” she said, “we were joking it’s the ‘Bona Lisa’.”

As well as painting, Coolidge was also a banker, shopkeeper and inventor. He also wrote an opera.


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