New York Times reporter Aaron Byrd sought to buy one of the now-iconic paintings by the late, great Bob Ross (previously). Finding the task to be almost impossible, Byrd embarked on an investigative journey to learn why. Byrd found that the thousands of paintings created by Ross for his PBS show The Joy of Painting were housed in a Herndon, Virginia warehouse owned by the Kowalski family.
Years earlier, Annette Kowalski took an art class with Ross. She was enchanted by the art teacher and recruited him to replace artist Bill Alexander, who had a PBS show entitled “The Magic of Oil Painting”. The Kowalskis originally funded Ross’ career and later became his partners. After Ross’ death in 1995, the Kowalskis became the sole heir to his legacy.
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. …
Despite Ross’ insistence that he didn’t want his work to be in a museum, in March 2019 the Smithsonian National Museum of American History acquired a number of original paintings for their permanent collection.
“The hardest part was choosing the paintings,” said Eric Jentsch, the entertainment and sports curator for the National Museum of American History. Mr. Jentsch and his colleague Ryan Lintelman visited the offices of Bob Ross Inc…to find the images and materials that best exemplified Mr. Ross’s lifetime of work. …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.