The Bud Adams Collection
DECORATIVE ART, AMERICANA, AMERICAN INDIAN ARTIFACTS PART OF FOOTBALL PIONEER’S LIFE
Kenneth S. “Bud” Adams Jr. was one of professional football’s most influential architects. “Bud Adams played a pivotal role in the growth of pro football as a pioneer and innovator,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said after Adams’ passing in 2013. “As a founding owner of the American Football League that began play in 1960, Bud saw the potential of pro football and brought the game to new cities and new heights of popularity, first in Houston and then in Nashville.”
The founder, owner, chairman of the board, president and CEO of the Tennessee Titans/Houston Oilers was also much more than just a football pioneer. He was an avid collector with a great love of art, and his interests ranged from illustration art to Western and decorative art to space memorabilia, American Indian artifacts and Texana art.
“His business interests took him from oil to farming and ranching interests to real estate and automobile sales,” says Michelle Castro, Trusts & Estates consignment director for Heritage Auctions. “But he also was a major collector of fine art and Indian artifacts and maintained a private gallery at his corporate headquarters.”
Treasures from the Bud Adams Collection are being offered in upcoming sales, including Heritage Auction’s Decorative Art (Dec. 9-10), Arms and Armor (Dec. 10), and Texana auctions (Feb. 10). “Mr. Adams was a collector who pursued top-quality items,” Castro emphasizes. “These auctions present a remarkable opportunity for collectors to acquire items with excellent provenance.”
A Wells Fargo strongbox, dating to the bank’s days in the Wild West, is being offered in Heritage’s Americana & Political Grand Format Auction scheduled for Dec. 2. Avidly sought by collectors, Castro explains, “It is very had to find an example with untouched original patina like this one. They usually have been repainted. Fakes abound, made from generic strongboxes, but this strongbox from the Adams collection is the ‘Real McCoy.’”
Also to be auctioned off is a footlocker belonging to the legendary cavalry commander George Armstrong Custer, a box that landed in the Adams collection after numerous personally owned Custer items were sold by his descendants in the 1980s and 1990s. “The trunk,” Castro says, “is typical of the trunks most army officers of Custer’s day used to carry personal belongings as they moved from post to post.”
Additional bottles from Adams’ cellar are being offered in Heritage’s Dec. 1-2 Fine & Rare Wine Auction.
Earlier this year, Heritage Auctions offered Adams’ items in its Illustration, Manuscripts, American Art and Ethnographic Art auctions. A Beverly Hills auction in October featured more than 1,300 lots from Adams’ wine collection, including a case of Château Lafite Rothschild 1982 (with an auction estimate of $22,000 to $30,000).