Van Gogh is soaring to new heights at auction—and no, we don’t mean the famed Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh. We’re talking about Van Gogh, the one-eared rescue dog who painted his way into the internet’s hearts last year with his colorful canvases and heartwarming adoption story.
The canine artist is once again lending his talents to the Happily Furever After Rescue in Bethel, Connecticut, which helped find him a loving home.
At an online benefit auction that kicked off today, Van Gogh the dog’s birthday, the pet food company Pedigree paid $10,000 for the dog’s rendition of Vincent Van Gogh’s masterpiece Starry Night. (The auction runs through March 30, which is Van Gogh the artist’s 170th birthday.)
All the proceeds of Van Gogh the dog’s auction will benefit the rescue efforts of Happily Furever After, which specializes in dogs like pit bulls, who can sometimes have a hard time finding homes due to the breed’s frequent abuse in dog fighting.
Van Gogh the dog himself lost his ear to the cruel world of dog fighting, when he was used as a bait dog in the ring. The paintings in the current auction, titled “Van Gogh Reimagined,” are all based off of compositions by the original Van Gogh. (Unlike a painting by the Dutch master, the dog’s art starts the bidding at just $25 a piece.)
“Having Van Gogh create some of history’s most famous paintings felt like big shoes to fill,” founder Jaclyn Gartner told Midnight Publishing Group News in an email. “There was a lot more attention to detail this time around to make sure to incorporate all the colors and try to recreate the pieces as closely as possible.”
So did Van Gogh set a new record for a dog artist? Unfortunately, the Midnight Publishing Group Price Database doesn’t track dog data, but a 2016 listicle on canine art prices—including one by a pet nicknamed DogVinci—couldn’t find any sales results over $1,700.
Though the canine Van Gogh’s paintings have become a surprise fundraising hit, helping the one-eared pup discover his artistic talents was originally a tactic Gartner devised to help him find a new owner.
She staged the dog’s first “gallery show” as an adoption event in October. When Happily Furever posted on Facebook decrying the lack of visitors, the story went viral. Commissions for Van Gogh paintings came rolling in, and foster volunteer Jessica Starowitz adopted him.
Since finding his new home, Van Gogh has painted more than 150 new works of art. To make each work, a person applies blobs of colors of paint to a canvas placed inside a plastic bag. The dog then completes the artwork by licking off a coating of peanut butter or other dog-friendly treats from the outside of the bag.
“The most exciting part about Van Gogh painting is never really knowing what it’s going to come out to look like as it depends on how his tongue slides across the peanut butter coated bag,” Gartner said.
“Since we did the art gallery in October, Van Gogh has explored more tasty toppings,” she added. “We have begun incorporating other things like ground up liverwurst, pumpkin puree, and goat whip. Painting has become an even more delicious hobby for Van Gogh! “
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