Bob Drummond: The "Original" Western Art Dealer

Bob Drummond
Recently, I was very fortunate to spend a few days with renowned Western art dealer, Bob Drummond.  Bob Drummond founded Drummond Galleries in 1986, which later became Coeur d'Alene Galleries.  Bob was also one of the three original partners who founded the Coeur d'Alene Art Auction along with Stuart Johnson and Peter Stremmell.  Today, the Coeur d'Alene Art Auction is the largest auction house in the country specializing in Western and American artwork. They hold over 160 world record prices, the highest of any auction in the field, and achieve the most consistent sales with a 95% sales rate, the best in the industry.  I learn something new every time I visit with Bob, because he's a wealth of knowledge with his experience, and I'm always blown away with his knowledge of where so many important paintings are located. Anyone who knows Bob, will tell you, Bob tells it how he sees it. His integrity is one of the biggest reasons he was so successful for so many years.  Because Bob or "Toad" as many know him, is a fairly humble guy, there's a good chance next time I see him, he says, "What was with that stupid blog post you wrote about me you weasel?"

Some of the stories I hear from Bob are unbelievable, like the one about a lady from Wisconsin who was having a garage sale and had an oil painting with a $5 price tag on it.  She had turned down an offer for $3, and it's a good thing she did.  She would later find out that the painting was by Philip R. Goodwin titled "Into New Country."  She sent it to Bob to have it appraised, and in 2001, he valued it at $35,000-$50,000.  It still had the $5 price tag on it when Bob received it.  I know he probably doesn't think about it, but Drummond, along with his partners that founded the Coeur d'Alene Art Auction, (Stuart Johnson & Peter Stremmel) have had a significant impact on where the Western art market is today.  I asked Bob about what he thought of his legacy, and of course he shrugged it off like I was crazy for even bringing it up.  In reality though, when you look at the prices of C.M. Russell's work today compared to where it was 20 years ago, there's no denying his prices have tremendously gone up.  It's not just Russell's work either.  Carl Rungius, Seltzer, Paxson, Gollings, Farny, Clymer, the Taos Founders, Pleissner, Dixon, Kuhn, the Alaskan artists, the list goes on and on that fall under the Western umbrella.  Drummond says it was the auction that helped drive the market values of western artists up.  I agree, but you can't deny the effect of decades of educating, trading, and selling art privately as well.  Don't get me wrong, there are other guys in the Western art world who have had major impacts.  Fred Renner, Jack Bartfield, Gerald Peters, Van Kirk Nelson, Bill Burford, and Stu Johnson come to mind and there are so many more.

Data courtesy of AskArt

Like in any business, personal relationships are crucial.  Whether it's collectors, dealers, scholars, or artists, they'll all tell you Drummond was always a straight shooter.  I've always said, one of the biggest benefits of collecting art are the people you meet and the relationships you develop, and hearing Bob's stories just reinforces my belief.  Often times, the recently acquired painting serves as a mnemonic device for the laughs shared over lamb chops in Reno, red beers in Great Falls, or warm chocolate chip cookies in Scottsdale.  I love hearing Bob's stories about trading with Gerald Peters or a visit from Montana dealer, Paul Masa and his suburban full of gems.  When I started selling Western art, I loved trading with Paul Masa even though I'm pretty sure Paul got the best of me.  He was always anxious to make a trade or do a deal.  Today, I love getting a visit from Curtis Tierney of Tierney Fine Art for some trading or a call from Tylee Abbott of William Abbott Fine Art, or an email from Josh Rose of Western Art Collector with some breaking news.  Most of all, I enjoy sharing a Hudson's Hamburger with Bob and learning from his experiences in the "Old West" of Western art.


  1. This guy sold me a couple paintings. He was really nice and I enjoyed my experience with him. I wish I could buy a couple more.


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