“The Sugar Shack,” the painting featured on Marvin Gaye‘s I Want You album, has sold for $15.3 million at an auction. Bill Perkins, a hedge fund manager and entrepreneur, took the iconic painting home after competing with 22 bidders, WRAL reports.
“A childhood dream come true happened tonight,” Perkins wrote on Instagram while posing next to the painting.
The painting, created by artist Ernie Barnes, shows a group of Black dancers in the 1950s having a good time at the Durham Armory, a famous North Carolina dance hall. In addition to being featured on Gaye’s 1976 album, the painting was displayed on the sitcom Good Times.
Barnes, who died in 2009, reflected on the painting when he spoke with the Oakland Tribune in 2002. He said the idea for “The Sugar Shack” was inspired by his childhood growing up in segregated North Carolina. The artist said he remembers “not being able to go to a dance I wanted to go to when I was 11.”
Before he became a painter, Barnes was a professional football player. That’s part of the reason why many of his artworks depicted sporting scenes. His work has also appeared on other album covers, such as the 1984 cover art for The Crusaders’ album Ghetto Blaster and B.B. King’s 2000 project, Makin’ Love Is Good for You.
“I paint when ideas come and I see a vision of what I want from our common humanity,” Barnes told the Oakland Tribune in 2002.
According to Christie’s auction house, “The Sugar Shack” was estimated to sell for $150,000 to $200,000, but Perkins was willing to do whatever it took to make the purchase.
“I would have paid a lot more,” he told The New York Times following the auction. “For certain segments of America, it’s more famous than the ‘Mona Lisa.'”