'Dallas' Star Patrick Duffy to Auction Art Collection

Patrick Duffy - Publicity - H 2018
Courtesy of Sotheby's

Selling the works that 'Dallas' bought, the actor is letting go of 40 classic American works, including pieces by Andrew and Jamie Wyeth as well as John Singer Sargent, that he collected with his late wife.

The art collection adorning the walls of actor Patrick Duffy’s Oregon home is a solid block of 40 American masters, including works by Andrew and Jamie Wyeth, John Singer Sargent and Milton Avery — whose modern portrait, "The Seamstress," is expected to fetch $2-3 million at auction May 23 at Sotheby’s.

"The collection came together very organically," Duffy tells The Hollywood Reporter of the art that Dallas bought, a treasure trove assembled by the actor and his wife of 43 years, the dancer Carlyn Rosser, who died last year. "She was instrumental in widening the scope of my appreciation of art beyond stage acting and literally introducing all the various other forms of the fine arts, whether it’s painting, sculpture, dance, music, etcetera. She was the one who took me out of buying college bookstore poster art and taught me to realize the effect art can have on you."

Duffy met Rosser in the early 1970s when they were castmates in a touring production. They married in 1974 and purchased their first piece of artwork that same year, a Charles Bragg drawing that Duffy says cost them an entire year in breakfast bacon.

"What’s nice about this type of collection is that it is honestly, truly reflective of the collector and their personality," says Sotheby’s senior specialist Peter Kloman. “It’s not a checklist of certain artists or types or aesthetic.”

A consistent theme runs through the works, a folksy look at a simpler America — seascapes by 19th century romanticist William Bradford, forest landscapes, barns and villages. Leon Kroll’s vibrant "Hunting Couple" depicts a man and a woman in a meadow, him with his gun cracked. It reminds Duffy of a black-and-white portrait of his parents, Marie and Terence Duffy, posing with their hunting rifles. In 1986, the two were gunned down in the bar they owned in Townsend, Montana.

"They spoke to us first," Duffy says of the artwork and how he chose it. "We never bought anything for its future value, which is not to say we didn’t do the research to make sure it was a viable piece of art. But we were always attracted to the piece first."

Avery’s "The Seamstress," painted in 1944, is the most valuable work in the collection and also the most abstract. When the couple attended an auction preview with their eyes on a Central Park landscape painting by American post-impressionist Maurice Prendergast, they wound up seated directly opposite "The Seamstress," which they literally couldn’t take their eyes off of.

"Try as hard as we could to keep looking at the Prendergast, as we were walking out my wife said, 'You realize, of course, you’re going to have to bid on that,'" he recalls. "It never failed to stop me in my tracks as I walked past it and have a solo conversation with it. And the same was true with my wife."

After a public showing May 19-22 in New York, the American Art auction begins May 23 at 10 a.m.; streaming online at Sothebys.com, with another auction to follow in October. Duffy will be watching as he continues to prep The Plunge at the Broadwater, his new bar opening at the end of May. It’s situated in a five-theater complex on Theater Row in Hollywood, which he’s been renovating with his son, Padraic, as part of a project begun with Carlyn two years ago, before her death.

For Duffy, The Plunge will open a new chapter just as the auction closes one. "It breaks my heart to not have it available on a daily basis," he ruminates about the collection. "We have it temporarily. And after we’re gone, somebody else will experience it. I’m joyful that it’s going to have a new home."