By Sarah Gianelli EBS Contributor

Out of 41 works of art presented at the first annual Big Sky Art Auction, 30 pieces sold from $1,000 to $25,000 per piece, deeming it an undeniable success in the Western art auction world.

The event was co-hosted by Creighton Block Gallery and Outlaw Partners (publisher of EBS) and held on Thursday, July 28, as a kick-off to the Big Sky PBR. While final numbers weren’t available at press time, organizers said $20,000 to $24,000 was raised for the nonprofit beneficiaries, Spanish Peaks and Moonlight community foundations.

“We were thrilled with the results,” said John Haas, founder and president of Spanish Peaks Community Foundation. “The auction was a great opportunity for the foundation to raise more funds to give back to the local Big Sky community.”

In recent years the two foundations have provided financial support for local entities such as the Gallatin River Task Force, Big Sky School District, Warren Miller Performing Arts Center, and the Big Sky Community Organization, among many others.

The fundraising effort was in large part due to the caliber of artists featured.

“We sold two R. Tom Gilleon portraits, the only living artist the C.M. Russell Museum has ever done a retrospective for,” said Colin Mathews, owner of Creighton Block Gallery. “That alone marks the Big Sky Art Auction as one that artists and collectors will take seriously and regard with great promise in the years to come.”

Preferring to remain anonymous, the individual who went home with the two Gilleons (each with a base bidding price in the $20,000 range), as well as “Madison Horses, 1991” by Theodore Waddell and a seascape by Frank Hagel, enjoyed the auction immensely.

“It will make my bidding more difficult,” she said, “but I hope it becomes a yearly event that grows in years to come.”

Big Sky resident Howard Schutte acquired Oleg Stavrosky’s “The Plains Veteran” and “Arrowhead,” a bronze sculpture of a falcon by esteemed artist Greg Woodward.

“It was a highlight of our weekend and a great kick-off to the PBR weekend,” said Schutte. “Our friends Chris and Kenyon Carter are here from Atlanta. This was their first art auction and thought it was fabulous. They can’t wait to come back!”