An iconic painting from the iconic sitcom Good Times just sold for some huge bucks in New York City.
Fans of the popular series, which aired on CBS from 1974 to 1979, are very familiar with Ernie Barnes’ 1976 painting The Sugar Shack as it was featured in the sitcom’s opening credits. The painting also served as the cover of Marvin Gaye’s hit single “I Want You.”
On May 12, the painting sold at auction in New York City for $15.3 million.
According to Christie’s auction house, the sale set an auction record for Barnes’ work by more than 27 times the artist’s previous record, and was 76 times the high estimate of $200,000.
22 bidders participated in the 10-minute auction before the painting was sold to Houston-based energy trader Bill Perkins.
“I would have paid a lot more,” Perkins told The New York Times following the auction. “For certain segments of America, it’s more famous than the Mona Lisa.”
The painting was inspired by Ernie Barnes' childhood
According to Deadline, the inspiration for The Sugar Shack painting came from Barnes’ memories of his childhood growing up in North Carolina.
“The Sugar Shack, which depicts a dance hall filled with vibrantly drawn Black dancers, elongated as they move to the rhythms of an R&B band, was inspired by Barnes’ memories of his childhood North Carolina hometown and is painted in the style that has come to be known as Black Romantic,” the outlet states. “[Marvin] Gaye was so taken with the image he sought permission to use it for the cover of his ’76 album.”
'The Sugar Shack' was used in 'Good Times' opening and closing credits
During the fourth season (1976-77) of the smash Norman Lear-produced sitcom “Good Times”, The Sugar Shack was used during both the show’s opening and closing credits, and in subsequent seasons was featured in either opening or closing credits. During the show’s fifth and sixth seasons, the painting appeared in the family apartment of the Evans family, suggesting it was the work of eldest son and aspiring painter “J.J. Evans,” played by Jimmie Walker. (Other Barnes paintings were occasionally featured on the show, and Barnes himself, who was a professional football player in the 1960s before devoting himself to his artistic endeavors, appeared briefly in two early episodes of the show.)