Linda and Bob Buford
Art turns into Charitable Giving
When Linda and Bob Buford purchased a contemporary painting in New York 27 years ago, little did they realize it would produce so many rewards. The large painting by abstract expressionist painter Joan Mitchell, with its active brush strokes and vibrant yellows and blues, captured the spirit of the bright, sunny landscapes of the South of France. Along with another work by the same artist, the painting hung in the Bufords’ guest bedroom where Bob often read and admired the two favorites from their art collection.
Last summer, the Bufords’ insurance agent requested that the couple get a new appraisal of the Mitchell paintings. “The appraisal came back at 50 times what we paid for those two pictures in 1981,” Bob said. “We were stunned!”
With the new appraisal, the Bufords began to think of the paintings more as an investment that had appreciated than as beautiful artwork, and they worried about how light and humidity might affect their value. One night over dinner, Bob said to Linda, “Let’s give the paintings to your donor-advised fund at Communities Foundation of Texas. If CFT can sell the art at auction, then you’ll be able to recommend more grants for the causes you care about.” Linda readily agreed. And she added, “Wouldn’t it be fun to go to the auction and see what happens?”
The Bufords donated the paintings to CFT, which handled the details necessary for selling the paintings at the fall contemporary art auction at Sotheby’s. That included working on details of the consignment agreement, insuring the paintings and arranging for them to be transported to New York by mid-August in order to be photographed for Sotheby’s art catalog. The auction house devoted a two-page spread to the larger Mitchell painting.
Despite turmoil in the financial markets, the fall art auction season remained strong, aided by a weak dollar and expanding wealth from developing nations. The Bufords treated themselves to a trip to New York and attended the auction. Needless to say, they were delighted when there was a great deal of interest during bidding for the paintings.
The Bufords’ donation of the art has left them much to look forward to in the future. One is the empty wall in their house, which they plan to fill with the work of an emerging artist. Even better is knowing the two paintings provided philanthropic dollars to Linda’s donor-advised fund at CFT. “I’m excited about the opportunities I’ll have to recommend grants to charitable organizations I care about,” she said. “We enjoyed the paintings for many years, and now we can experience more joy by using their value to help others.”