by Debbie Hall

In September, Art encounter will have been a part of the world of art, not just in Las Vegas, but also globally for 25 years. Rod Maly, founder and owner, has continually transformed the gallery and business in keeping with the economy and technology along with his contributions in the art world.

It was 500 years in the making but on Jan. 19, 2012 the only authenticated Leonardo da Vinci sculpture, “Horse and Rider,” was revealed in Las Vegas by Rod, who now owns the piece.

It is the only sculpture known to exist from the hand of Leonardo da Vinci. Rod’s son, Brett Maly, who is the president of Art encounter and respected appraiser in the art world, admitted that he chuckled when told by one of his staff that someone was calling to speak to him about a Leonardo da Vinci piece he owned. After realizing the caller was legitimate, Maly involved his father, Rod. The owner came from Indianapolis to work with Rod and Brett.

Art provokes thought. Some of the art I encounter makes me smile, or evokes emotion. It is something to be enjoyed every day.

– Rod Maly

“We were skeptical for about two years, but after meeting with all of the experts and doing due diligence, it was authenticated,” Rod said. Due to the owner’s failing health, Rod and his partner Jim Petty purchased the piece. Recently, the sculpture was displayed in Milan, Italy, where da Vinci created most of his work and its reception was overwhelming.

Brett is also known as the fine art appraiser on the television show, “Pawn Stars” on the History channel. As a result of his many appearances, consultations and questions about finding art, he has written a book, “The Pocket Picker for Fine Art.”

Seated: Rod Maly
From left: Scott Ferguson, Brett Maly and Janella Hunsaker
“This manual is designed to slip into a pocket or purse when checking out art in thrift stores or estate sales. I felt if someone had a guide, they could check out if one kind of art or print is more valuable than another kind. This was truly a labor of love,” Brett said. The book is available for purchase at

As for “Pawn Stars,” one of Brett’s favorite memories was one of his first appearances on the show. It was at the beginning of the series when the cast regulars were frequently working the floor. Chumlee was stacking a pyramid of mugs and accidentally knocked them over. The Old Man yelled at him and Brett realized that they really acted the way the series portrayed them.

od has always been a collector of art and after selling his successful computer business based in Dallas in 1991, he and his wife Kristine
decided to move to Las Vegas. In 1992, they opened Art encounter, the largest gallery in Las Vegas. The gallery focused on emerging artists to introduce them to the public. “It was a lot of fun working with the artists and that was a miraculous time for us. We developed great relationships with the artists as well as the customers,” he explained.

Executive Director
Scott L. Ferguson
ROne of those emerging artists was Jennifer Main, who was a junior at the Las Vegas Academy when she brought some of her work to Rod. Now living in Los Angeles, Art encounter still represents her and sells her artwork.

“Jennifer brought artwork that was not only artistically pleasing but it encompassed a young girl’s emotions that came through in her artwork. You got a sense of her being. Here was a young woman trying to find herself in the world and expressing her feelings and psyche through her art,” Rod explained.

With the gallery for 25 years, Brett was a freshman in college in Texas for radio, television and film with a goal to become a filmmaker when his father sold the computer business. “When my mom and dad told me they were moving to Las Vegas, I wanted to move with them.” While he admits he was not originally planning on becoming an art appraiser, he so enjoyed working at the gallery that he decided to finish his degree in communications at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and go into art.

Fine Art Framing
Kelly Tucker and Janella Hunsaker
The original gallery, located on Spring Mountain Road, measured over 13,000 square feet. Rod also owned and operated the largest art gallery in Texas, a gallery in the Fashion Show mall and in 2015, opened a gallery in The Forum Shops in Caesars before closing all retail locations.

“In 2017, we have changed our business model,” he said. “We deal mostly with investment quality high-end fine art. This would include Picasso, Chagall, Dalí and others.” Rod emphasized that this is an opportunity to acquire fine art that can also be an investment with appreciation. The facility is now located off-Strip with a viewing room, conference area and the ability to work with any buyers to find the piece and artist they want to acquire.

Art encounter offers three divisions including fine art sales, appraisal services headed by Brett and conservation framing. Most important is their reputation. “We have been here for 25 years. We pride ourselves on integrity. Everyone knows when they purchase art from us, it is real and we can be trusted,” Rod stated.

Art encounter
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