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Ward Kimball

How Much is a Ward Kimball Painting Worth?

How much is a personal painting by Disney animation legend Ward Kimball worth? Watch the segment above. The painting, owned by animation artist Jim Clark, was featured tonight on an episode of Antiques Roadshow. The appraiser, Leila Dunbar, really knows her Disney history. It’s not mentioned in the program, but Ward originally gave the painting to his unit animator Julius Svendsen as a gift.

  • Especially considering all the history she talked about, I think that piece is way undervalued! Judging on the size and quality of that painting, I’d hold out for $50k+ if I were that guy. One day the work of animation legends will be in museums as modern art.

    • Jeff

      Not worth nearly $50k. This wasn’t created as part of a production, it’s one of Wards leisure paintings. Big difference. The painting is a beauty though.
      If you can get your hands on some of his original art from Toot Whistle Plunk and Boom, or some of the other classics he worked on, then you are talking serious money.
      I think Toot Whistle is perhaps the best looking cartoon ever created.

      • amid

        Original art from Toot Whistle, like cels, can be had for as little as $300 unless it’s an Eyvind Earle color concept, in which case it would bring in considerably more. Still, no piece from that film is worth as much as Ward’s personal art, which is far more rare. It helps that Ward was not just a hobby artist, but exhibited extensively around southern California between the 1940s and 1960s, and even had a one-man show at the Santa Barbara Musem of Art.

      • Jeff

        Amid, I completely disagree with your assessment that no piece from Toot Whistle is worth as much as Ward’s personal art. The painting in the Antiques Roadshow video cost the guy only $1750. I have never seen a master setup from Toot whistle that cheap. I have been buying cels for 18 years and I don’t know anyone who has available inventory from that film that is authentic, untrimmed, and used under camera for $300.
        Van Eaton has a master set up listed for $4500, and the Caveman in the cel was not even used under camera.
        Please prove me wrong and let me know where I can get some original art from Toot Whistle for $300, because I will buy it all!

      • OtherDan

        Yeah..I beg to differ Jeff. I’d say those original cels of Toot, Whistle, Plunk are also way undervalued. I’d love to know where to find one at $300. I’d imagine those celling for a minimum of $2k. It’s not like there are as many as a feature length film, and it won an Oscar! If you look at contemporary fine artists who are selling their work for say, $25k on up, well then you’d be either unappreciative of Ward Kimball’s legacy or terrible at the “Price is Right”.

      • amid

        Jeff – Here’s five “Toot Whistle” cels that recently sold at auction for $1000, or $200 per cel:

        Like I said, Eyvind Earle’s work goes for more, but I’ve never seen a piece of Toot Whistle production art for $10k or $15k, much less the high end estimates of Ward’s personal painting. You’re free to prove me wrong if you can provide the facts.

      • Jeff

        OtherDan, I have no idea what you are trying to say. You make no sense. You say: “I beg to differ Jeff.” But then you seem to agree with me. The last sentence of your post seems to be some kind of gibberish. What are you trying to say?

      • Jeff

        Thanks for posting the link. I passed on buying those cels from Van Eaton last year because they are trimmed, some significantly,and I suspect that one of them was not used under camera. These are not a good example. It would be similar to getting an estimate on a Ward Kimball painting that had been cut out of its frame, and therefor damaged. You should compare apples with apples.
        Again, I contend that if you were to find a master setup with original BG and untrimmed cels, you could be paying north of 10K for it, easily. Certain key cels are worth 2-4K without the BG.
        Don’t believe me, call Van Eaton, Animazing, or Wonderful World of Animation, or any reputable animation art gallery and ask them what a master set up with untrimmed art that was used under camera would cost.

        If you click this link, you can see one at $4500, but the caveman wasn’t used under camera.:
        This directly contradicts your comment that “no piece from that film is worth as much as Ward’s personal art” – because the painting of Wards shown in antiques roadshow was purchased for only $1750.

      • @Jeff, You said, “Not worth nearly $50k”. I wholeheartedly disagreed. In response to that statement I said you’re either terrible at assessing whether the “Price is Right” (a reference to a cheesy TV game show-reflecting my disdain for your valuation), or you’re unappreciative of Ward Kimball’s art and legacy to think that piece of art isn’t worth anything beyond $50k. Is that clear enough for you?

      • Jeff

        [Comment removed by editors. Per our commenting guidelines, “Be considerate and respectful of others in the discussion. Defamatory, rude, or unnecessarily antagonistic comments will be deleted.”]

      • Sorry I missed the offending comment. I wasn’t attacking you Jeff btw, just your appraisal skills.

  • jordan reichek

    my heart: she pumps with green, envious blood.

  • She mentions Sleeping Beauty as a film that Ward was leading the way with….she was pretty accurate until she made that statement.

    • amid

      She also mentioned Bambi as if Ward worked on it, which he didn’t. Despite missing these details, she had as good a grasp of Disney history as I’ve seen on a mainstream TV program.

  • A Painter

    lol @ the guy. He just standing like “I didn’t come here for a history lesson, I WORK in animation i already know this. Just tell em the goddamn price”

    • Ha! Good call. But isn’t that what Antiques Roadshow is all about? On the BBC original, the people seem to be more interested in the history of the object with the value as an afterthought.

      • anonymous

        Yup! the BBC antique road show is far superior to the american one. Very few seem to care about the history on the US show. it’s all about how much it’s worth. Much of it almost feels like they give inflated valuations to keep the viewer watching

  • Robert Schaad

    I was so glad to see this segment. Any idea who the members of “The Committee” are??

  • B.Richards

    Great appraisal from the auctioneer. It is unfortunate, but how the world works.

    Kimball’s painting is valuable as it is related to his talent and accomplishments in the animation field. He gave his life and talents to make this field better, bringing it to a level of art form unprecedented. The painting shows less of an understanding of current art theory of his day. It is a good period piece but not leading the times. As “art” it is using a form of cubism from 30 years earlier, and therefore, may help bring new ideas into animation of the time, but no new ideas to art of the time. Incorporating this style into “Toot Whistle” was brilliant, and shows a knowledge and awareness of contemporary art, and art history in general, that kept his animation and ideas fresh. Animation for adults. Sophisticated.

    The piece itself is valuable, to the owner, because Kimball did it. Art will bring what the market will bear. The day he bought it, as high bidder, the market said it was worth $1,750.00. Now with a greater appreciation and understanding of Kimball’s talents it might bring up to $50,000.00. It is not an iconic image, but collectible. BTW, A Cezanne “Card Players” just sold for $250,000,000.00. Keep hitting the garage sales.

    • I’d like to know who’s depicted in that painting. Those look like caricatures to me.

  • There once was a middle class family in New York who happened to own several of Picasso’s paintings and when the children inherited the collection, they were forced to sell them off because they couldn’t afford the inheritance tax. The daughter said something that I will never forget. Paintings aren’t really worth anything at all. Very rich people who happen to want the same painting that determine its worth. Why is one Picasso worth $120m and another almost identical Picasso ‘only’ $20m?
    Ward’s painting is terrific but if there aren’t enough people with deep pockets willing to spend big money on it, it is worth little. And that goes for every painting out there.

    • If you’re paying an inheritance tax, you’re coming into real money. Also, selling one of the Picassos likely would have paid the taxes for the lot. I’m thinking the family you mentioned just wanted the money.

      As for the Kimball piece, I too was impressed by the appraiser’s knowledge considering the show’s not focused specifically on animation. Also, that’s a beautiful/fascinating piece. I think the valuation is spot-on.

      And yeah, that’s the nature of anything of value. Even stock and currency are worth what someone is willing to pay for it.

      • Ted

        Estate tax (federal plus state) approaches 50%. If you had two equal value paintings, selling one would allow you to keep the other. But if you have three siblings, it would be difficult to split that painting between you. Paintings also tend to not pay your mortgage very well, as many museums in financial straits can tell you.

    • amid

      Great comments, B.Richards and Uli! Enjoyed reading them.

      • I disagree with Uli. Just because a piece of art isn’t fetching it’s worth in dollars, doesn’t mean it has lost it’s intrinsic or historic value. It just means the piece has slipped under the radar. And, some lucky person will one day benefit from the oversight. To think that rich people set prices solely on supply/demand is about as ignorant as the people walking right past a valuable work of art with no clue as to it’s significance. I think the bigger cost determinant is when rich, clueless people undercut the marketplace by unloading art below it’s intrinsic value. It’s like the housing market, foreclosures undermine and disrupt the entire monitary market. But, they’re either desperate or irresponsible.

      • A painting that was believed to be by a famous painter was discovered to be by somebody else. Let’s say a Canaletto was actually painted by oneof his pupils. It’s intrinsic value stays the same but the price tag will drop drastically. The monetary value of any object of art is determined by the market. You can buy a painting today by a contemporary well known artist. By the time your children inherit it, the artist’s name might be forgotten and they won’t be able to give it away. The intrinsic value hasn’t changed. The art market determines the value of art. Many talented artists that can’t make a living from their art, can tell a story about that. So can many hugely successful ones.
        I’m still hoping that one day I’ll belong to the second group, hah!

      • I agree that if this Ward Kimball painting were painted or forged by someone else, it would be a less intrinsically valuable object. I think what you’re saying is one way to look at it. But, there are plenty of “priceless” works of art that people aren’t willing to sell at current market prices; like my Disney Feature animation desk. To me, it’s worth much more than I paid and than some have sold theirs for. So, part of me believes that it’s market value will rise accordingly one day, another part of me ascribes a value to it based on my knowledge and appreciation of it’s worth. I can set the price. So, to my mind it’s not so much what the market will bare, the value is in the item’s scarcity, history, and condition.

  • Everything aside, the painting is marvellous. You see paintings every now and then that make you happy just for their existence, this is one of those. Good on ya Mr Kimball

  • Gepetto Stromboli

    The appraiser was accurate until she said that Disney was practically broke at the end of WWII. In fact, the Disney Studio was in the black from four years of making films as a beneficiary of war contracts. It ended up in far better financial condition than it had been at the beginning of the U.S. involvement in the war, when Pinocchio and Fantasia had not fared nearly as well as Snow White at the box office. (Bambi also underperformed, but that film was released during the war.)In 1945 Walt had to get new product into the marketplace and re-establish his studio as a pure entertainment provider, which he did.

  • No one’s talking about the appraiser’s estimate-$10-15,000(and she’d insure for 30K without balking). Which seems about right to me. Although obviously the fame of Ward in the wider world is due to his association with Disney, the fact is that on its own merits it’s a very, very good painting from 1949.
    I see some pretty marginal 20th c. art stuff with what I’d say is a fair degree of competence in antique stores in Pasadena that’s never marked less than several grand. A midcentury piece as beautiful as this is? If his name were Ish Kabibble it’d go for more than 2K in one of those trendy shops or galleries. But this is really a superb piece-and so Ward.

    Question-what happened to the rest of his personal painting and art? God, I’d love to have one of his kinetic pieces…or anything else. This lucky guy really scored big.

  • Vince

    He bought the painting for $1750 seven years ago. The valuation was 10k to 30k. She only speculated it could get to 50k. Watercolors by Chuck Jones sell at galleries for over 10k and were produced only 15 years ago and sell from time to time when available for that price at most of the galleries mentioned by a previous poster. This is a very large oil by Ward Kimball, Disney legend. An attraction painting from the haunted mansion sold for almost 50k at the same December auction where the ‘Plunk’ sales were featured. 30k is not an unreasonable number.

  • Somehow, I can picture Ward laughing his head off at this conversation. I was lucky enough to spend Saturday evenings with Ward and Betty. This was usually at the Highland Park home of his son in law who was also a talented artist.

    No doubt about it, Kimball knew a good deal more about art than just cartoons.

  • Mr. Floyd, back me up! What is that painting actually worth?

  • julie svendsen

    It’s worth what the buyer is willing to pay for it. It sure wasn’t worth much when my mom sold it. And, since it’s not art done for a Disney production, it has only limited appeal. I suspect that Ward Kimball fans will pony up a lot more money for it than it’s worth.

    • optimist

      I take it you’re not a fan of his painting? Oh well.

      • julie svendsen

        It doesn’t matter what I think of it. That painting represented some very unpleasant memories for my mom so, no, I’m not a fan. I wish she could have realized more money from its sale but getting rid of it was its own reward.

  • That’s correct, Julie. And, that’s what Ward would find amusing were he still with us.

    Having once assisted Ward, I think I would prefer his rough sketches more than anything else.

  • Doug Marsh

    Fascinating conversation. I do want to add that the PRICE of an object does not always reflect the WORTH of an object. This is especially true when dealing with art.

  • Great feedback! I

    I was fortunate to purchase “The Committee” for a great price (I had little money at the time, they were asking $10k) and I cherish it – the painting hangs central on my office wall beside original Edward Runci, Harry Ekman, Joyce Ballantyne and Fritz Willis pin-up paintings. The piece is stunning yet simple with a water stained frame that Ward built himself. I’m proud to be the caretaker.

    As for value, I wasn’t surprised by the AR appraisal, but I’m doubtful I’ll ever sell. The value is very personal to my taste, what it means to the animation art form and my appreciation of Ward himself. I think the painting will be seen as an important classic, recognized for its merit as a beautiful, intelligent painting that stands on its own as a treasured, 20th century American piece of art.

    If you have any questions about The Committee, I’m happy to reply. Thanks again for your thoughtful comments!