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Most Sought after WWI Painting Purchased by Tennesseean

alvin c york painting

CLEVELAND, Tn -- A painting long coveted by art collectors worldwide is now in its rightful home of Tennessee. Philanthropist and Check Into Cash CEO Allan Jones of Cleveland, TN purchased the historic painting of "Sergeant Alvin C. York" which has long been coveted by art collectors around the world. The purchase was made on Veteran's Day 2011 (11/11/11).

Created in 1919 by acclaimed artist Frank Schoonover, the painting portrays Sergeant Alvin York, one of America's most famous soldiers known for his outstanding act of courage in October 1918. York, a native of Pall Mall Tennessee, played a crucial role in the attack of Argonne in France. As an acting corporal, he led 17 men in action against a German stronghold. Against a heavy German counterattack, York proceeded alone and made history by killing 17 German soldiers with a single pistol. His action is depicted in the art work.

York eventually brought in a total of 132 German prisoners.

Schoonover sold the painting originally in 1926 to a collector in Delaware by the name of H.M. Pierce. It was acquired by Blakeslee Gallery in Wellington, Florida in 1998.

Gary Blakeslee, who obtained the painting for the gallery, described it as "the single most patriotic piece of artwork any American could own. It is the quintessential World War 1 masterpiece."

Many people have attempted to purchase this painting from the Blakeslee Gallery over the years, he said, but the collector refused to part with the painting until he found the right owner.

Blakeslee said upon selling the painting to Mr. Jones: "Alvin York – the solider who many thought was cloaked by the breath of God - is finally home!"

Prior to Jone's purchase of the painting, it had been on loan to the 82nd Airborne Division War Memorial Museum.

Jones said having the painting back in Alvin York's home state was key to his decision to purchase the historic work.

"I was aware of this painting for many years but never thought it would become available," said Jones. "When I learned that Mr. Blakelee would consider a sale to the right buyer, I felt it was important to have the painting here on Veteran's Day 11-11-11. This is an important day for Bradley County and Tennessee."

Jones, the controversial founder and CEO of Check Into Cash, Inc. and the Allan Jones Foundation, made national headlines earlier this year with a donation to the non-profit organization Tennessee Achieves. The donation made it possible for every graduating senior in Bradley County selected by the organization to attend community college.

Source: Check Into Cash

Published November 15, 2011

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