Our cover this month, “Chasing the Fire Engine” (29 in. by 23.25 in.) by John Philip Falter, sold for $106,250 at Christie’s recent American Art Sale in New York on Feb. 26, 2014. Falter was a prolific illustrator who forged a long-lasting relationship with the Saturday Evening Post. His work is notable for presenting a less idealized form of Americana than that of Norman Rockwell or J.C. Leyendecker—the leading lights in the field—instead focusing on, as he put it, “the homeliness and humor of mid-western life.”
He produced over 120 covers for the publication over a 25-year period, until the publishers changed the cover’s format from illustrations to photographs. The death of illustrated magazines also marked the end of a number of talented artists’ careers, as they had become dependent on the steady work such publications provided. Falter, however, pivoted into the historical and western fields, creating 200 paintings in this style. Of this late-stage shift, Falter noted, “It seemed that nothing could possibly happen to the Post. Then suddenly, in my middle life, I had to retool and give up my horse for a car.”
Advisors can learn a lesson from Falter’s story. It’s important to avoid becoming complacent when managing a client’s long-term estate plan. Laws are constantly changing, and it’s imperative to keep your clients’ plans flexible and be able to roll with the punches.