Bob Ross’s First Ever On-Air Painting On Sale For $9.8M
SDI Productions via Getty Images

If you want these happy little trees, you’ll need a lot of green. Beloved TV artist Bob Ross’s first-ever on-air painting is up for sale and costs almost $10 million.

The late host of PBS’s “The Joy of Painting” became massively popular for his friendly, calm demeanor and his insistence that anyone can become an artist. Now Modern Artifact Gallery in Minneapolis is selling “A Walk in the Woods,” the first of over 400 paintings Ross made on the show. Ross painted it for the premiere episode which aired on January 11, 1983.

“It is season one, episode one of what you would call the rookie card for Bob Ross,” gallery owner Ryan Nelson said of the work, per The Guardian. Nelson added that he doesn’t expect the work to sell quickly because of the cost. 

“What this piece represents is the people’s artist,” the gallery owner continued. “This isn’t an institution that’s telling you that Bob Ross is great. It’s not some high-brow gallery telling you that Bob Ross is great. This is the masses, the population in the world that are saying that Bob Ross is great.”

“A Walk in the Woods” was originally sold for an undisclosed amount to a volunteer to raise funds for the local PBS station. The painting was displayed in her home for almost four decades before she contacted Nelson about purchasing it. He bought it last year, then gave it the “not for sale” price of $9.89 million, the outlet noted. 

“Ryan would prefer to take [the painting] out, tour it around to museums and things like that so people can enjoy it and appreciate it,” Nelson’s publicist said. “He will take offers but he’s not in a hurry to sell it.”


Ross, who died in 1995, had a passion for removing pretentious attitudes from the art world. As he said in the first episode, “We have avoided painting for so long because I think all of our lives we’ve been told that you have to go to school half your life, maybe even have to be blessed by Michelangelo at birth, to ever be able to paint a picture. And here, we want to show you that that’s not true. That you can paint a picture.”

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