Bob Ross was an American painter and television personality. Today, Ross is commonly known for his PBS show The Joy of Painting, his calming teaching demeanor, and iconic hairstyle. Though highly popular, there are plenty of misconceptions about the beloved artist and his landscape paintings.

Today, owning a Bob Ross original is not just an acquisition of art, but a piece of cultural history. Whether you're an avid collector or a curious novice, this guide will navigate you through the intricacies of buying and selling Bob Ross paintings, ensuring that your experience is as harmonious as the landscapes he so lovingly portrayed.

Important Details

  • While Bob Ross Inc. owns over 1,000 of Bob Ross’s paintings, many Bob Ross artworks are privately owned.
  • If you want to buy an original Bob Ross painting, you can improve your changes by working with an experienced art dealer.
  • If you want to sell an original Bob Ross painting, an art dealer can help you with authentication, valuation, and the sale process.

Who Was Bob Ross?

Considered the painting teacher of the general public, Ross was not originally looking to become a painter. Ross joined the Air Force when he was eighteen and developed his painting skills while enlisted. In the early 1960's, Ross took his first painting class at a United Service Organizations (USO) club. While serving in the military he painted prolifically, often selling his Alaskan landscapes to tourists. In 1981, Ross retired from the military and pursued an art career.

Bob Ross detail of original oil on canvas painting

Ross primarily learned painting from television instructor William Alexander and his PBS show The Magic of Painting. Through the televised class, Ross developed his characteristic oil painting technique alla prima or wet-on-wet. The technique consists of applying oil paint on wet paint rather than waiting for it to dry in between layers. This method allowed Ross to complete a composition quickly.

"The Joy of Painting," hosted by the charismatic Bob Ross, was a beloved television series that aired from 1983 to 1994. In each episode, Ross effortlessly guided viewers through the creation of vibrant landscapes, emphasizing his philosophy that anyone can be an artist. With his soothing voice and signature phrases, he transformed painting into a therapeutic experience, inspiring countless individuals to pick up a brush and discover their own artistic potential.

How Many Paintings Did Bob Ross Make?

It is a common misconception that Ross only produced paintings for his television show. In fact, Bob Ross created more than 30,000 artworks throughout his career, with only four percent created for television.

Aside from being a prolific painter while in the military, Ross was a private instructor leading various training seminars for Bob Ross instructors. Additionally, he created various paintings for charity and public events.

How Many Paintings Did Bob Ross Make for The Joy of Painting?

The Joy of Painting ran from 1983 until 1994, airing more than 400 episodes. During the 11-year run of the show, Ross created over 1,000 paintings.

For each episode, Ross produced three paintings: one before taping as a reference, one during the show, and one after taping for instructional books. The warehouses of Bob Ross Inc. hold many of the landscape paintings created for the show.

Who Owns Bob Ross Paintings?

Another misconception about Ross’s paintings is that Bob Ross Inc. owns all the paintings he created. While Bob Ross Inc. owns over 1,000 of his artworks, thousands of other Bob Ross’s paintings remain privately owned.

Ross often donated his works to friends and people who visited his studio. Additionally, many of the oil paintings created for The Joy of Painting went to charities and PBS stations across the country. Many of the donated work sold at fundraiser auctions and are now privately owned.

You can learn more about the paintings owned by Bob Ross Inc. in this video from the New York Times:

Can I Buy Original Bob Ross Paintings?

Though Ross was prolific in creating paintings, it is hard to find his landscapes for sale. The collections owned by Bob Ross Inc. and the Bob Ross Art Workshop and Gallery in Florida are not for sale. Additionally, most private owners do not want to part from the works.

While they can be rare, you can buy original Bob Ross paintings if you know how to find them.

How to Buy Original Bob Ross Paintings

Today, Modern Artifact buys and sells more Bob Ross paintings than anyone else in the world. Our experience gives us a unique perspective on what it takes to buy authentic Bob Ross artworks.

Here are three of our most important tips on how to buy original Bob Ross paintings:

Avoid Fakes

Bob Ross signature on an original oil on canvas

If you search for genuine Bob Ross paintings online, many of the paintings you find will be fake. Ross taught viewers how to paint in his style and recreate the paintings he made for his show. As a result, many “Bob Ross” paintings on eBay and other websites are fakes or replicas of his works. To buy a Bob Ross original painting, you’ll need to be mindful of these sellers. 


Authentic Bob Ross paintings can sell for upwards of $10,000. Fakes and replicas typically sell at a lower market in risky private sales or online auctions. Sellers of fakes often refuse to provide a certificate or do not possess one.

Verify Authenticity

Genuine Bob Ross paintings come with a certificate of authenticity from Bob Ross Inc. Ross’s former manager, Annette Kowalski, inspects and authenticates possible Bob Ross paintings. As part of the authentication process, Kowalski looks for Ross’s characteristic brushwork and a specific quality in his signature.

Unsure how to verify the authenticity of Bob Ross artworks? Modern Artifact can teach you what to look for in an authentic Bob Ross painting and walk you through the authentication process.

Work with an Expert

Navigating the complex world of art sales can be daunting, especially when dealing with pieces from iconic artists like Bob Ross. Partnering with an expert team like Modern Artifact offers invaluable advantages. Our professionals possess a deep understanding of the market, ensuring that your painting is priced accurately and reaches the right audience.

Furthermore, we have established networks with passionate collectors and reputable galleries, maximizing the potential for a swift and lucrative sale. Entrusting a Bob Ross masterpiece to an experienced partner not only alleviates the stress of selling but also guarantees that the artwork's value and legacy are fully recognized and appreciated.

Can I Sell Original Bob Ross Paintings?

Certainly, owning a Bob Ross original can be both a cherished possession and a potential investment. If you're contemplating selling a Bob Ross painting, it's essential to ensure its authenticity and provenance. While there are many genuine Ross artworks in circulation, replicas and inspired pieces also abound. Before listing it for sale, consider having it appraised by a certified art expert. This not only verifies its legitimacy but also provides a credible valuation.

Remember, the art market's interest in Ross's work has grown significantly over the years, and with the right approach, you can capitalize on this demand while ensuring your treasured piece finds an appreciative new home.

How to Sell a Bob Ross Painting

Navigating the intricacies of selling a treasured artwork, especially one by an iconic artist like Bob Ross, involves a multifaceted journey from authentication to appraisal, and from crafting compelling listings to understanding fees and commissions. This process can be both time-consuming and overwhelming. Partnering with a seasoned and reputable team, such as Modern Artifact, streamlines this journey, alleviating stress and ensuring that your Bob Ross masterpiece finds its rightful new owner efficiently and effectively.

Contact us today if you are interested in selling your Bob Ross painting. 


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