Wyeth is one of the top American illustrators of the 20th century, known for his depictions of stories from Robin Hood, Rip Van Winkle, and Robinson Crusoe, among many others. He was also featured on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post and he contributed to the U.S. Treasury campaign to sell war bonds. Wyeth’s work is in the collections of the Brandywine River Museum in Maine, the Portland Museum of Art, and the Farnsworth Art Museum. His home is also a National Historic Landmark in Chadds Ford, Maine. Wyeth is also the father of painter Andrew Wyeth, best known for his painting Christina's World (1948), and whose work is in the Museum of Modern Art, among other collections.
In September, the work went for auction at Bonhams Skinner with an estimate of $150,000 to $250,000. When the bidding opened at $150,000, an Australian bidder placed the first and only bid. With the buyer's premium, that went up to $191,000. But after weeks of waiting for payment, the sale was canceled as the buyer never paid, and the work was returned to the family.
The Donahues were reportedly looking forward to the profits so that they could take a vacation to visit their son in Germany. Donahue said it was her “biggest disappointment ever.” She went on, “Luckily we didn’t spend a dime beforehand…so it’s not like actually losing money. But it meant so much.”
But this month, Aviva Lehmann, who saw the news about the canceled sale, immediately knew of a private collector who would want the work. According to the Times, Lehmann called the collector at 3 a.m., at the same time that the collector sent her a message about the work. She called it “kismet.” The work was sold, and this time, the Donahues’ received their share. Once the money hit their account, they called their son in Germany and told him to start planning because they are coming to visit.