Christie’s has announced that on May 22, Norman Rockwell’s painting “The Rookie,” the cover on the March 2, 1957, Saturday Evening Post famously set in the Red Sox locker room, will be auctioned. The work has been on display twice at the Museum of Fine Arts, and is historically significant, partly because Rockwell had pitcher Frank Sullivan, right fielder Jackie Jensen, catcher Sammy White, and second baseman Billy Goodman model for him in Stockbridge. (Ted Williams is also featured but didn’t model.) Christie’s has valued the art at $20 million to $30 million, but you’ll likely need more than that. Rockwell’s 1951 painting “Saying Grace,” valued at $15 million to $20 million, sold for $46 million in December, a record for Rockwell and for a single American painting. Liz Beaman, Christie’s American Art specialist, says the work is being put up for sale because its anonymous owner recognizes that Rockwell is having a moment among collectors. Why now? “That is everyone’s favorite question,” Beaman said, “and it’s always fun to speculate.”
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