Story at a glance

  • A cave and an additional 43 acres of land surrounding it in Missouri was auctioned off by Selkirk Auctioneers & Appraisers for $2.2 million.
  • Known as the “Picture Cave,” the site is filled with Native American artwork and was used for sacred rituals and burials by the Osage people.
  • The leaders of the Osage Nation had hoped to purchase the cave and land to preserve the sacred site.

The Osage Nation has called Tuesday’s sale of a Missouri cave filled with Native American artwork from over 1,000 years ago “truly heartbreaking.” 

The cave and an additional 43 acres of land surrounding it near Warrenton, Mo., was auctioned off by Selkirk Auctioneers & Appraisers to an unidentified winning bidder for $2.2 million.

Known as the “Picture Cave,” the site was used for sacred rituals and burials by the Osage people. It also houses numerous hieroglyphics and Native American artwork, “making it the largest collection of Indigenous people’s polychrome paintings in Missouri,” the auction site reads.

Guest auctioneer Amelia Jeffers wrote on Facebook, “Sold! Hammered at $2M and contract for $2.2M (with the buyer's premium). Picture Cave is going to a private conservationist who plans to protect and preserve it in perpetuity. As someone pointed out to me today, I have sold real estate, I have sold art, and I have sold history - but never all three in one remarkable item. Grateful for the opportunity!”


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The leaders of the Osage Nation had hoped to purchase the cave and land to “protect and preserve our most sacred site.” 

“Our ancestors lived in this area for 1,300 years,” the Osage Nation said in a statement to The Associated Press. “This was our land. We have hundreds of thousands of our ancestors buried throughout Missouri and Illinois, including Picture Cave.”


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Published on Sep 15, 2021