An abstract painting by artist Chuck Close was gifted to an NYC dog walker and later put up for auction only fetched $40,000.
A former New York City dog walker thought he was going to get a $10 million payday when a painting he’d come to own by a famous artist — whose works sell for millions of dollars — went to auction this week.
The retiree, who is living off Social Security, was devastated when the painting sold for a meager $40,000.
Mark Herman, 68, of Manhattan, said he had a vision while on psychedelic mushrooms that the painting by the late abstract artist Chuck Close would be worth $10 million.
But that drug-induced dream crumbled as he watched the work sell for a fraction of that in Dallas on Tuesday, the New York Times reported.
“I’m really disappointed,” he admitted. “But then, I think, if I had a lot of money it would put a lot of pressure on me.
“And that’s the last thing I need,” he added.
Herman was given the untitled 6-foot abstract nude by former lawyer Isidore Silver, whom he became close friends with after he started walking his toy poodle about six years ago, according to the paper.
Silver, who had repped Close in a First Amendment lawsuit against the University of Massachusetts in the 1960s, had mentioned to Herman in passing that he kept one of the artist’s works rolled up in a closet.
In March, as the 87-year-old Silver’s health declined, he offered the painting to the dog walker.
“He basically said, ‘Take the painting,’” Herman told the Times.
Days later, Silver died.
Herman researched Close and found that one of the artist’s paintings had sold for a whopping $4.8 million. He contacted Sotheby’s auction house, which agreed to sell the painting.
“I was on cloud nine,” he said of the day he dropped it off, with his eight-figure hopes taking hold.
However, Close died in 2021, and the artist’s estate had no record of the painting Herman wished to sell.
The day before it was to go to auction, Sotheby’s pulled it and footed Herman with a $1,742 bill for preparing the canvas.
A discovery made by an archivist at the University of Massachusetts, though, kept Herman’s hopes for a new home for him and his girlfriend alive. Caroline White uncovered a photograph of the painting in a 1967 issue of the student paper, confirming the work was Close’s, according to the Times.
With his enthusiasm restored, Herman strapped in to watch live from his apartment as the painting hit Heritage Auctions in Dallas on Tuesday.
The auction house had estimated it to fetch between $20,000 to $30,000 — but before the auction began it had already received an early for $40,000.
Which is where Lot 77070 would ultimately stand with no other bids.
The purchaser, Long Island lawyer James Pincow, told the outlet that he bought the painting with his father because they thought it was undervalued and were intrigued by its backstory.