Walt and Annette Kowalski had been longtime enterprise companions of the long-lasting painter Bob Ross, and through their ownership of Bob Ross Inc. (BRI) — which holds rights to Ross’ picture and likeness — they’ve continued his legacy. The Kowalskis are additionally the topic of the Netflix documentary Bob Ross: Happy Accidents, Betrayal & Greed, which chronicles the controversy surrounding Ross’ property and the myriad of lawsuits surrounding his mental property rights since his 1995 demise. Walt and Annette have handed on administration of BRI to their daughter, Joan Kowalski, and haven’t personally responded to remark about their relationship and enterprise dealings with Ross. Nonetheless, Bob Ross’ son, Steve Ross, claims the Kowalskis tried to steal his father’s identify and succeeded. So what occurred, and the place are they now? Right here’s all the things to know.
Annette and Walt Kowalski helped Bob Ross get hold of success
The Kowalskis married at a younger age, had 5 youngsters, and lived in Washington, D.C., the place Walt labored for the CIA and the couple had numerous “facet hustles,” per The Every day Beast. After the demise of their son in a automobile accident, Annette coped along with her despair by watching Invoice Alexander, Ross’ predecessor and an oil painter on TV. They traveled to Florida to take a category with Alexander’s protégé, Ross, and realized his immense expertise. “I couldn’t imagine what I noticed,” Annette advised Mental Floss in 2015. “Individuals had been mesmerized by Bob. I used to be so enthralled with him that I wasn’t even doing my portray. I used to be following him across the room and watching him work together with individuals.”
She requested Ross to return train some lessons in D.C., whereas the Kowalskis fronted prices and did publicity. Finally, they turned to TV, and Ross’ present proved successful on PBS. Integrated in 1985, BRI established Walt, Annette, Bob, and his second spouse, Jane, as equal companions, in line with The Every day Beast. The Kowalskis introduced enterprise acumen; Walt labored on contract negotiations. Annette was additionally an artist who appeared on the present as a visitor.
Annette Kowalski seems in The Pleasure of Portray with Bob Ross
Annette gave interviews the place she would discuss Ross throughout that point. In 2016, she spoke to NPR, saying Ross was a “tyrant” and clarifying, “Do you actually suppose this firm could be as profitable as it’s, if he didn’t insist that all the things be carried out a sure method?” She clarified that she wasn’t attempting to say “he was impolite or nasty.” “He simply wished issues carried out his method. He was fantastic,” she added.
When Jane died in 1992, Ross discovered himself with solely a 3rd of the corporate, per The Every day Beast. Steve and associates of Ross declare that the connection with the Kowalskis had soured over time (the Netflix documentary additionally claims that Annette and Ross had an affair that drove a wedge between the Rosses and the Kowalskis). The Kowalskis deny that the connection was ever contentious or that there was an affair. To NPR, Annette stated that towards the tip of his life, “Bob was not all the time stuffed with compliments, however he stated to me, ‘Annette, you’re the wind beneath my wings.’”
The Kowalski household now owns Bob Ross Inc., and it’s been the supply of controversy
Because the Netflix documentary and The Every day Beast describe, earlier than his demise in 1995, the Kowalskis tried to have Ross signal over to them the rights to his identify, likeness, and works. There was a protracted battle as Ross was nearing demise, wherein Ross tried to regain management of his mental property by specifying in his will that the rights would go to his half-brother, Jimmie, and son, Steve. After Ross’ demise (the Kowalskis reportedly didn’t attend the funeral), BRI pursued a wide range of lawsuits and monetary claims in opposition to the Ross property, his widow, a PBS writer-producer, and the station that aired Ross’ present, arguing that they owned something Ross made or used for work. In keeping with Steve, additionally they warned him in opposition to utilizing his father’s identify for painting- and art-related enterprise endeavors. (The Every day Beast’s makes an attempt to succeed in Annette and Walt immediately for remark or interview had been unsuccessful, and they don’t seem within the Netflix documentary.)
In 2018, after Steve sued BRI, alleging that it was illegally licensing Bob’s picture, he misplaced the case. Nonetheless, he later reached a settlement with the corporate that allowed him to make use of his personal identify for enterprise functions. Within the documentary, he says he has by no means seen any income from BRI.
The Kowalski household, which independently operates BRI to at the present time, have expanded into placing Ross’ exhibits on streaming platforms and exploring higher branding alternatives. BRI stated in an August 2021 assertion to Vanity Fair, “If not for the efforts of the remaining founders and their dedication to this mission, Bob’s inventive and cultural relevance — and his expressed need to develop into the world’s most beloved portray trainer and good friend — would have been misplaced a long time in the past together with his passing.” Joan maintains that they’re protecting of the dear mental property of Bob Ross. She advised The Daily Beast, “I do know that I’m doing precisely — precisely — what was meant by Jane, Bob, Walt, and Annette.”
The Kowalskis’ net price is unknown
The truth that there has been a Ross resurgence isn’t any secret, however Annette and Walt Kowalski’s net price is way more tough to pinpoint. On the time of the artist’s demise, his one-third possession of BRI was price about $650,000, in line with The Every day Beast, that means the corporate’s worth would have been round $1.95 million (factoring in inflation, that may be nearer to $3.49 million at the moment). The present image, nonetheless, is murky. The Washington Submit reported in July that the profits of Bob Ross Inc. are unknown whereas highlighting its profitable push into streaming and merchandising lately. BRI now has a thriving on-line presence; the Bob Ross YouTube account has nearly 5 million subscribers as of this writing, and its social media accounts have wholesome followings as properly (greater than 239,000 followers between its Instagram and Twitter accounts). “We’re busy getting Bob into each nook and cranny,” Joan stated in an interview, per The Submit.
One Bob Ross-centric work BRI presumably received’t be profiting off of is the brand new Netflix documentary. Walt and Annette did not appear within the documentary, and the preview teases that it can’t show the trailer, seemingly hinting at authorized causes.
Bob Ross: Comfortable Accidents, Betrayal & Greed is streaming on Netflix now.
Extra reporting by Stephanie Topacio Lengthy.
https://www.bustle.com/leisure/where-are-annette-walt-kowalski-net-worth | The place Are Annette & Walt Kowalski, Bob Ross’ Former Companions, Now And What Is Their Web Price?