Norman Rockwell's 'Willie Gillis Food Package from Home' could bring in $10M at Susanin's Auctions in Chicago

Missing for decades, Norman Rockwell's WWII masterpiece Willie Gillis: Package From Home has turned up at Chicago fine art auction house Susanin's and will be sold December 1. Rockwell's Rosie the Riveter sold at auction in 2002 for nearly $5 million. In 2006, Rockwell's Breaking Home Ties fetched a record-setting $15.4 million from an anonymous buyer. (PRNewsFoto/Susanin's)

November 27, 2012 3:39:24 PM PST
Norman Rockwell painted more than 300 covers for the Saturday Evening Post, including Willie Gillis Food Package from Home, which is up for auction.Dozens of other pieces of work are up for auction at Susanin's Auctions on South Clinton in Chicago this weekend. But the scene stealer is the 3x5 foot oil on canvas by Normal, known as one of the greatest illustrators of American life. "This is a Saturday Evening Post cover from 1941. A painting by Norman Rockwell titled "Willie Gillis Food Package from Home," Sean Susanin, president of Susanin's Auctions, said. Willie Gillis was on the front of the Saturday Evening Post on October 4, 1941. "This story is little Willie Gillis has received a food package from home. From his grandmother or mother we're not sure who sent it. But we do know that the other soldiers are in hot pursuit of what's in that package. Probably some sweet treats of some sort," Sean Susanin said. "He probably got one or two but shared the most with everyone else." Rockwell painted 11 Willie Gillis covers for the Saturday Evening Post during the war years -- and they always told of the boy next store who traded in his civvies for GI fatigues. The painting hasn't been seen by the public for more than 40 years. "This painting has been here in Chicago, hanging in a CEO's office since 1968," Susanin said. The company's new CEO, who hasn't been identified, is selling the Americana work. The price it brings could make little Willie go AWOL. "It's a very rare image. A very rare painting. Ten million dollars is not a lot of money for somebody who wants a trophy like this is their collection," Susanin said. Ten million? That copy of the Post from 1941 cost just five cents.