“I paid 50 Grand for that picture”: Eddie Murphy Hit the Jackpot When the Duplicate of the Original Painting He Bought Was Sold for $16 Million

A $16 million painting for just $50K? Now that was quite a bargain for Eddie Murphy!

Art holds the power of transporting people back to the past without the help of a time machine. Therefore, it is quite understandable why people give out millions and millions of dollars to acquire and keep some of these beautiful pieces of history for themselves. However, not many are as lucky as Eddie Murphy when it comes to purchasing art.

Eddie Murphy in Coming 2 AmericaEddie Murphy in Coming 2 America
When Eddie Murphy sought after the famous ‘The Sugar Shack’ painting by artist Ernie Barnes, he purchased the original piece for just a meager fifty thousand dollars which is basically pennies for an actor of his caliber. However, the shocking part is that while Eddie Murphy paid five digits for an original painting, the duplicate was sold to someone for a whopping sixteen million dollars!

Eddie Murphy Bought ‘The Sugar Shack’ for $50,000

Eddie Murphy on Jimmy Kimmel LiveEddie Murphy on Jimmy Kimmel Live
In January 2023, Eddie Murphy made an appearance on talk show, Jimmy Kimmel Live, where host Jimmy Kimmel brought up The Sugar Shack by Ernie Barnes. He talked about how Murphy once owned the painting back when it was hung up on the set of the sitcom, Good Times.

Murphy let Kimmel, and the world, know that he still has the painting, despite the fact that it has been sold. If you are wondering how is this even possible then prepare to have your minds blown. Murphy revealed that he owns the original version of the painting which he paid $50,000 for. The version that was sold at Christie’s auction house was the duplicate.

Turns out, Barnes had painted two versions of The Sugar Shack. One went to the late singer Marvin Gaye, and the other was a part of CBS’ Good Times. Murphy got his painting from Gaye’s estate after the singer’s demise.
“I have that painting now. The Sugar Shack. Ernie Barnes who painted the original, painted the duplicate and the duplicate just sold at Christie’s for sixteen million dollars. For the duplicate. I have the real one. I paid, I think I paid 50 grand for that picture from Marvin after Marvin Gaye passed away I bought it from his estate.”
It looks like Murphy lucked out on this one!

What Inspired Ernie Barnes to Paint ‘The Sugar Shack’?

Ernie Barnes' The Sugar ShackErnie Barnes’ The Sugar Shack (Via Christie’s)
One look at Barnes’ The Sugar Shack and you’ll lose yourself amidst the group of people heartily grooving and enjoying themselves through the means of dance. Gaye using the painting for the cover image of his fourteenth studio album, I Want You, turned Barnes’ work into a symbol of pop culture, making it all the more intriguing.

So, what was the reason behind Barnes deciding to paint this very painting? Well, according to Christie’s, The Sugar Shack is supposed to take its audience all the way back to the Durham Armory in 1952, “an iconic dance hall in segregated North Carolina.” The auction house states that Barnes snuck into the hall as a young teenager and was left mesmerized. This led to the creation of the famous painting.
“The artist snuck into the Armory at age thirteen, engendering a memory of music and movement that would inspire the creation of The Sugar Shack twenty-four years later.”
Christies recalled Barnes’ experience at the Armory which the artist admits “was the first time” his “innocence met with the sins of dance.” Sometimes, the stories behind a painting are much more valuable to art enthusiasts. One could say that they are paying for the soul attached to the painting rather than the artwork itself.

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