Why You Can't Buy an Original Bob Ross Painting Anywhere

If you want to buy an original Bob Ross painting, you're out of luck. When Ross - who rose to fame as the host of 'The Joy of Painting' on PBS - died in 1995, he left behind thousands of finished paintings, but none of them are for sale. 

"We're not in it to sell paintings," Joan Kowalski - President of Bob Ross, Inc., which is headquartered in the small town of Herndon, Virginia, where most of Ross' works are kept. "We've got them safe, packed away in a room," Kowalski added.

And that's where most of them will stay because Ross wasn't interested in selling his work, and the company that bears his name is honoring Ross' wishes by keeping the paintings off the market. 

They made that decision despite having plenty of material to sell, if they wanted to. For every finished painting that you saw on 'The Joy of Painting,' there were two duplicates made by Ross: one was painted before the show and the third was painted afterward for his collection, which has been managed by Annette Kowalski - who discovered Ross back in the 70s, and who made the collared shirts that he wore on his show.

So you can't buy any of Ross' paintings, but you can see them in person if you're willing to take a trip to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington, DC. The museum will feature Ross' paintings in an upcoming exhibit that will also profile the work of Julia Child and Mr. Rogers. That's the best place to see an authentic Bob Ross, but there are plenty of counterfeits online being sold by people who want to cash in on Ross' enduring popularity. To learn how to spot a counterfeit Ross painting, check out the interview with Annette Kowalski in this clip courtesy of The New York Times.


Hiding behind big sunglasses, I slunk to my car and started the engine. The bag containing a month’s worth of flower and edibles that I had just bought at Weedology, a legal dispensary in Ontario, Oregon was stuffed hastily into my bag; I dared not unseal it to survey the goods. Though my heart was pounding, I forced myself to cut a slow track out of the parking lot.

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