Where Are All the Bob Ross Paintings? We Found Them.
Bob Ross painted more than 1,000 landscapes for his television show — so why are they so hard to find? We solve one of the internet’s favorite little mysteries.
By Joe Coscarelli, Alexandra Eaton, Alicia DeSantis, Antonio de Luca, Will Lloyd and Eden Weingart
Bob Ross painted more than 1,000 landscapes for his television show — so why are they so hard to find? Solving one of the internet’s favorite little mysteries.CreditCreditBob Ross Inc./Photo illustration by The New York Times
By Larry Buchanan, Aaron Byrd, Alicia DeSantis and Emily Rhyne
Watched the video? Here are a few more details.
- July 12, 2019
What will be in the Smithsonian?
Bob Ross made three versions of each painting that appeared on “The Joy of Painting.” The first was made before the show, to be used as a reference. He painted the second during the 26-minute taping, sometimes with last-minute improvisations. The third was made afterward, for instructional books.
The donation to the Smithsonian includes the book version of “Blue Ridge Falls,” from Season 30 (1994):
The paintings and other objects officially became part of the museum’s permanent collection on March 22.
For now, the Smithsonian has no plans to display the paintings.
How many Bob Ross paintings are there exactly?
We don’t know.
According to an analysis by the website FiveThirtyEight, Mr. Ross painted in 381 of the 403 episodes of the show (the rest featured a guest). If three versions were made of each of those paintings, at least 1,143 originals would exist. Bob Ross Inc. estimates that it has 1,165 paintings stored on site.
But Mr. Ross also painted as an instructor, as well as for public events and for charity, so there may be additional paintings out there.
How much does one cost?
In the rare cases when a Bob Ross painting does surface, it depends who is buying. Joan Kowalski, president of Bob Ross Inc., said she has seen authentic Ross paintings sell online for $8,000 to $10,000 in recent years.
After we set out on our quest, a three-panel painting described as a “Bob Ross Original Oil Painting Triptych Mountain Landscape” surfaced on eBay. It is listed at $55,000:
Bob Ross Art Workshop & Gallery in New Smyrna Beach, Fla. Starting next year, people will be able to visit the studio in Muncie, Ind., where the show was taped.
1991 interview with The New York Times, Mr. Alexander said, “He betrayed me.” “I invented ‘wet on wet,’” he added. “I trained him, and he is copying me — what bothers me is not just that he betrayed me, but that he thinks he can do it better.”
about his legacy in 1991, he gave a similar answer: