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Seattle, New England Art Museums Made Sophisticated Super Bowl Wager

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Seattle, New England Art Museums Made Sophisticated Super Bowl Wager

“I’m totality confident that the Seahawks will prevail, no question in my mind,” Seattle Art Museum (SAM) director Kim Rorschach told ARTnews in the days leading up to Super Bowl XLIX.

Meanwhile, a 19th century oil painting from SAM’s collection makes its way to New England as the chip of a lost wager.

SAM and the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Mass. engaged in what was probably the classiest football bet of Super Bowl week. Each museum put a painting on the line, and the winner was to receive the loser’s piece on a three-month loan.

SAM requested Winslow Homer’s 1900 painting, West Point, Prout’s Neck from the Clark, which in turn chose Albert Bierstadt’s 1870 piece, Puget Sound on the Pacific Coast.

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“It’s an Atlantic Ocean seascape versus a Pacific Ocean seascape, so it made sense,” Rorschach said.

And as the Patriots pulled out a miraculous win in the final seconds of the game, Bierstadt’s Pacific Northwest masterpiece was bound for the Northeast – shipping expenses covered by SAM. We haven’t heard a comment from either side yet.

Both artists actually grew up in Massachusetts, and both were honored twice on U.S. Postal Service commemorative stamps.

According to the Times Union, the gamble sprouted from social media banter between Richard Rand, senior curator at the Clark, and Chiyo Ishikawa, deputy director of SAM.

“It kind of happened spontaneously,” Rand said. “She sort of threw it out to me on Facebook, and I responded, and our directors got involved. And it was off to the races.”

This wasn’t the first art-themed Super Bowl wager. In 2014, SAM won an identical bet that landed the Denver Art Museum’s Frederick Remington sculpture, The Bronco Buster in Seattle after the Seahawks thumped the Broncos. And according to the National Monitor, there were museum wagers in 2010 between the Indianapolis Museum of Art and the New Orleans Museum of Art, and in 2011 between the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh and the Milwaukee Art Museum. In 2012, when the New York Giants and New England Patriots squared off, mayors Michael Bloomberg and Thomas Menino wagered a package that included a visit to a major art museum.

It’s nice to see art and sports play off of each other, isn’t it?

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