Forrest Fenn captured the imagination of the world.
With his 2010 memoir, ‘The Thrill of the Chase’, he launched a massive scavenger hunt that saw nearly 350,000 people participate in the search for the treasure.
The treasure was found shortly before Fenn’s death in 2020.
The Santa Fe art and artifacts dealer has spent his life collecting.
On June 9, the first of two auctions will be held by Hindman with “Native American Art: The Lifetime Collection of Forrest Fenn”.
Bidding will begin at 10 a.m. EST on June 9 at hindmandauctions.com.
The second auction will take place in the fall.
“We are proud to present this truly renowned collection from a man who left his mark on the collecting community with his enthusiasm and playfulness for objects and the industry,” said Danica Farand, Vice President of Hindman for Native American art. “Fenn was a famous figure in the world of Native American and Western art collectors, and the auction offers bidders a unique opportunity to acquire works by a legendary collector.”
Farand said the collection both exemplifies a lifelong passion for Native American art, while demonstrating Fenn’s enthusiasm for discovery and history.
Fenn began collecting at a young age, exploring the plains of Texas and the mountains of Montana in search of arrowheads.
After retiring from the Air Force, Fenn established the Arrowsmith-Fenn Gallery, among the first galleries in Santa Fe, with his partner Rex Arrowsmith, which eventually became the Fenn Gallery.
The gallery has been incredibly successful, offering a range of Native American art such as artifacts, paintings and bronze sculptures, and attracting legendary names. The gallery was also known for championing the then almost forgotten Taos School of Southwestern.
The 168-lot auction will include pottery and baskets, many in impressive sizes. Rare photographs, dolls, beads and Plains gear will also be on offer.
Top lots include a Sioux twist pipe stem with catlinite bowl that belonged to Sitting Bull (lot 379; estimate: $60,000-$80,000) and a 19th century Sioux grizzly bear claw necklace (lot 380; estimate: $40,000 to $60,000).
“I was impressed by the impressive array of huge Pueblo storage jars lined up on the shelves 20 feet above the floor of Fenn’s den in his Santa Fe home,” said Wes Cowan, vice president of Hindman. “Beads from various Plains tribes filled two entire walls and one table displayed a collection of rare Plains dolls. The collection spread on the floor, under the tables and on the doors.
The auction will also include some rare photographs, the majority taken by the William J. Lenny and William L. Sawyers Company who operated a photo studio in Purcell, Oklahoma in the late 1880s and early 1890s.
It is believed that Fenn acquired several of these images from the estate of the famous Western painter Joseph Henry Sharp.
A group of 19 significant images of Kwahadi Comanche Chief Quanah Parker (lot 301; estimate $10,000-$15,000) who emerged as a war chief in the early 1870s and became one of the most best known from the 19th and early 20th centuries. also be offered.
Fenn was renowned for his collection of Pueblo pottery and this part of the auction is expected to generate considerable interest.
Highlights include a number of monumentally sized storage jars, including a pair of large Cochiti pottery storage jars (lots 444 and 445; estimate for each: $20,000-$30,000) dating from 1860, measuring 18 ½ inches high by 20 inches in diameter and 18 ½ inches high by 19 inches in diameter.
Farand said Fenn was the author of “Historic American Indian Dolls” and a number of examples from that publication are offered for sale.
A rare illustrated Wasco or Yakima pearlskin doll’s cradle, with one doll (lot 351; estimate: $15,000 – $25,000), a pair of 1890 Cheyenne pearlskin dolls (lot 321; estimate: $8,000 $-$10,000) and a 19th Century Western Apache Hide Doll bead (lot 317; estimate: $5,000-$7,000) is expected to see intense competition among bidders.
Fenn was also widely known for his collection of Southern Plains Strike-a-lite beaded pouches, and the sale includes some of his most sought-after examples.
Other beaded items include an impressive selection of moccasins, knife holsters, jokes and tobacco bags. A pair of Kiowa Beaded Hide Leggings from Western artist Henry Balink’s studio (lot 307; estimate: $5,000-$7,000) should stand out.