George Lucas’s Museum Has Bought Norman Rockwell’s Beloved ‘Shuffleton’s Barbershop’ From the Berkshire Museum

The painting likely sold for around $25 million.

Norman Rockwell, Shuffleton's Barbershop (1959). Courtesy Berkshire Fine Arts.
Norman Rockwell, Shuffleton's Barbershop (1959). Courtesy Berkshire Fine Arts.

The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, which Star Wars director George Lucas is currently building in Los Angeles, has bought Norman Rockwell’s painting Shuffleton’s Barbershop (1959). The folksy image is the priciest piece in a group of artworks being sold off by the Berkshire Museum, in a hotly contested, closely scrutinized attempt to right its finances.

The Lucas Museum confirmed today that it is the buyer of the famous work. The news comes just weeks after a court-approved agreement decided that some of the museum’s works would proceed to sale at Sotheby’s, while the Rockwell, the crown jewel of the group, would go to a then-unnamed American museum, ensuring that it would still be on view to the public in the future.

The final purchase price was likely somewhere in the region of $20 million to $30 million, which was the estimate Sotheby’s gave when it was still headed for auction there. The Berkshire Museum aims to raise a total of $55 million; the remaining 13 works set for sale at Sotheby’s have a collective estimate of $20 million to $28 million.

A rendering of the George Lucas Museum of Narrative Art. Courtesy of MAD Architects.

Though the list of potential buyers was short to begin with, the spotlight almost immediately turned to the Lucas Museum as a likely candidate when news of a museum-to-museum sale was announced. This theory was further bolstered in art-world circles when it was announced that the painting would be loaned to the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, for up to two years, since the Lucas Museum isn’t expected to open until 2022.

“Imagine a place where a fan of Norman Rockwell’s familiar art makes a meaningful connection with a cutting edge 21st-century digital animator,” the museum says on its website. It already has 13 Rockwell paintings and eight drawings in its seed collection to date.

A few weeks ago, artnet News reached out to another acquisitive and deep-pocketed museum, the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas, founded by Walmart heiress Alice Walton, to see if they might be behind the purchase. A spokesperson had confirmed that it was not. Crystal Bridges’s former director Don Bacigalupi is now director of the Lucas Museum, and he is no stranger to pricey art acquisitions.

“We are very excited to have it join our collection,” Bacigalupi said in a statement. “This will be one of the anchor works of our museum, which we’re delighted to share with the public.”


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