Ernie Barnes’s ‘Sugar Shack’ Painting Brings Big Price at Auction
May 12, 2022 Ernie Barnes’s most famous painting, “The Sugar Shack,” an exultant dancing scene that was featured on the cover of Marvin Gaye’s album “I Want You” and during the closing credits of the TV sitcom “Good Times,” sold for a whopping $15.3 million at Christie’s 20th Century auction on Thursday evening to the energy trader Bill Perkins. It was 76 times its high estimate of $200,000.
“I stole it — I would have paid a lot more,” said Perkins, 53, in telephone interview after the sale. “For certain segments of America, it’s more famous than the ‘Mona Lisa.’”
Though based in Houston, Perkins said he did not want to risk being on the phone, so he flew to New York City with his fiancée, Lara Sebastian, to attend the sale in person. He was worried that he might be outbid by someone of greater means. “What if Oprah shows up? What if P. Diddy shows up?” he recalled thinking. “I’m not going to be able to buy this piece.”
Should anything happen to hinder Perkins at the auction, he said he and Sebastian had a plan. “I said, ‘Hey, babe, if I have a problem or I pass out, do not worry about me: Keep bidding.’”