Venus And Serena Williams Auctioning Unseen Ernie Barnes Art


Venus and Serena Williams have teamed up with their sister Isha Price to auction off four never-before-seen works by Ernie Barnes for charity.

The sisters consigned four of Barnes’ pieces consisting of two paintings, “Holding Court” (1986) and “Mentors” (2008), and two drawings, “Saxophone Study” #1 (1993) and “Study for Brother to Brother” (1994), Art News reports. The pieces will be available for bidding as part of a charity auction from July 24 to August 1 on Pharrell Williams’ digital-first auction house platform Joopiter.

The pieces are expected to go for high amounts with “Mentors” carrying a pre-sale estimate of $120,000 to $180,000 and “Holding Court” estimated between $80,000 to $120,000. Ernie Barnes, born Ernest Eugene Barnes Jr., was an American artist best known for his unique style of elongated characters and movement. He passed away in 2009 at 71 and has had a resurgence of interest in his artwork in recent years.

The sisters worked directly with the Barnes estate on the charity auction that will benefit the Yetunde Price Resource Center, a community-based organization the sisters founded in 2018 in honor of their late oldest sister, Yetunde Price, who was killed in a drive-by shooting in 2003.

Serena, who is an avid art collector, shared her admiration for Barnes’ work and her hopes for how the charity auction will benefit their hometown of Compton, Los Angeles.

“Ernie Barnes is an iconic Black artist my family and I have long admired,” Serena said.

“Through his vibrant imagery, he envisioned a colorful world of harmony between all communities, backgrounds, and races. These never-before-seen works of Ernie Barnes will help fund and provide vital resources to those affected by violence in Compton and underserved communities across the country.”

It’s also the second charity art auction for Venus Williams in recent months following the auction she hosted at Sotheby’s in May aimed at raising funds for the preservation of Nina Simone’s childhood home in North Carolina.

“This collaboration allows us to share our deep love of art in a way that enriches and empowers the broader community. Ernie Barnes’ artwork played a profound role in creating societal change, and we hope this partnership will similarly inspire, uplift, and make a lasting difference in the lives of individuals and the communities we serve.”

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