Borein Watercolor Brings Top Dollar at Lebel's Mesa Old West Auction

The top lot at Brian Lebel’s Mesa Old West Auction was an action-packed watercolor by cowboy artist Edward Borein that realized $76,700 in front of a packed house at the 28th annual sale. 

MESA, AZ – 305 auction lots crossed the block on Saturday evening, January 20th at Brian Lebel’s Mesa Old West Auction, held live at the Phoenix Marriott Mesa in Mesa, Ariz. Total live sales topped $1.1 million, with an impressive 94.3% sell-through rate. The auction opened to a standing room only crowd of approximately 600 people, with additional bidders on 2 Internet platforms and a busy phone bank, as well as brisk absentee bidding.   

The top seller of the night was lot 139, an Edward Borein watercolor that sold for $76,700, firmly within its $65,000 – 85,000 presale estimate. Lebel’s auctions traditionally do extremely well with Borein’s work, and hold a number of auction sales records for the artist. A smaller watercolor by the artist brought $12,980. The second highest selling lot was lot 201, a shirt, leggings and moccasins outfit that belonged to famed Apache Chief and Geronimo’s nephew, Asa Daklugie, which brought $56,050 to an absentee bidder.

LD Stone Saddle

Continuing the recent trend, cowboy material was very strong. A Bohlin Rose Parade silver parade saddle that once belonged to Bob Tanner brought more than its high estimate of $40,000 realizing $47,200 to a determined phone bidder. Miniature saddles did exceptionally well, with the one-of-a-kind L.D. Stone salesman sample-sized saddle that almost doubled its low estimate, ultimately realizing $44,250 to a floor bidder in the room. The highly anticipated set of Duff Severe salesman sample-sized saddles that had once been displayed at the Smithsonian realized $26,550.

Salesman sample saddles were not the only popular miniatures of the evening. A group of three Roy Luttrell miniature wagons each brought more than 4 times their high estimates of $4,000, selling for $18,800, $20,060 and $21,240 each after fast-paced bidding between a floor bidder and an absentee bidder. They were the runaway items of the night, resulting in a round of applause from the packed room.  

Hollywood cowboys did well, with a Matt Dillon “Gunsmoke” used Colt Single Action bringing $24,780 to a floor bidder, which was more than twice its low estimate of $10,000. Monte Hale’s Colt Single Action realized $9,440, almost 8 times its low estimate of $1,200. Who says the old Hollywood cowboys have been forgotten?

Auction owner, Brian Lebel is pleased with the results. “I am thrilled to see that cowboy material continues to sell well,” says Lebel. “This business is always changing, but it’s heartening to know that great material still sells for great prices. We say that all the time in our business, but it’s nice to be reminded that it’s true.”


The Old West Show saw record-breaking crowds on Saturday, and brisk dealer and early-buy-in sales on Friday. Vendors were extremely happy, and there were numerous reports of nearly sold-out booths and six-figure sales. Next year’s Mesa Event dates are January 26, 2019 for the Auction and Jan 26-27 for the Mesa Old West Show. The June Cody Old West Show & Auction will celebrate its 29th annual event this June 23-24, 2018 at its new venue in Santa Fe, NM at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center. Visit for details.

(all prices include buyer’s premium)