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Ten Amazing Art Finds
Can you really find a famous painting at a yard sale? It happened to these people. Check out these 10 amazing art finds that will forever have you second guessing those flea market treasures.Read More
Ten Amazing Art Finds
Here’s our compilation of 10 amazing art finds from over the years. Enjoy!
1. The two-dollar yard-sale painting that fetched $20,000 (Canada):
A two-dollar yard-sale painting netted its owners nearly 10,000 times their initial investment when it was discovered to be an original by famed Canadian painter Edwin Holgate. Purchased in 2013 at a yard sale by a Quebec couple, the painting was bought simply for its depiction of a New Brunswick beachfront at low-tide. It wasn’t until a bit of Googling some months later did the couple realize that the piece they paid two dollars for was created by one of the country’s most esteemed painters, one that was frequently displayed alongside works from the famous Group of Seven. The painting was later put up for auction at $20,000.
2. E.J. Hughes painting bought for $200, sold for over $400,000 (Canada):
If you thought $20,000 sounded like a tidy return, how about does $402,000 sound? That was the reality for an Ontario’s Paul Martin (not the former Prime Minister) in 2007 when he came across a large oil painting at a garage sale. Determining the painting likely held more value than the $200 being asked by the seller, Martin snapped up the painting and began researching the artist. After discovering that his hunch had led him to becoming the owner of a work by famed BC painter E.J. Hughes, Martin had the piece appraised and put up for sale by an auction house. While initially estimated to fetch between $90,000 and $120,000, the painting subsequently sold for $402,000. Not bad for a $200 find.
3. Group of Seven and Tom Thomson paintings found at garage sale (Canada):
In Canada, the Group of Seven is undoubtedly the most famous collaboration of painters in the country’s history. Paintings from the group are highly sought after are notable for their heavy focus on Canada’s natural landscapes. Imagine then, one buyer’s surprise after discovering a set of paintings picked up at a Vancouver garage sale turned out not only to come from the Group of Seven but to also originate from one of the group’s inspirations, Tom Thomson. The pair of paintings was estimated to be worth up to $250,000, after being purchased for just $100.
4. Van Gogh kept in attic (Norway):
Vincent Van Gogh is arguably the world’s most famous painter and as such his paintings are valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars. You’d think, then, that the chances of finding one in the attic would be next-to-nothing, but that’s just what happened in Norway three years ago. Apparently purchased in the early 1900s by a Norwegian industrialist, a suspected Van Gogh piece was banished to an attic for nearly 70 years after it was deemed to be a fake. Subsequent attempts over the years to verify its authenticity had failed and it was only 2013, when the Van Gogh Museum discovered a reference to the painting in artist’s own letters that it realized the painting was in fact legitimate. If put up for auction, the painting is expected to fetch well into the millions.
5. Jackson Pollock painting found in junk shop (US):
Famed U.S. impressionist Jackson Pollock’s paintings are among the most valued in the world and have sold for millions at various auction houses. But there’s also an instance where one apparently sold for a mere five dollars. That’s how much Teri Horton, a retired long-haul trucker, paid when she spotted a “scary” painting at a local junk shop in California. Initially purchasing the piece to give to a friend, Horton later found out that the painting may be an original Pollock when a local art professor spotted it and informed her of its potential origins. Horton’s painting has been subject to much controversy as some believe it to be an original while others have called it a fake. Regardless, Horton has been offered as much as $9 million for the piece and there was even a documentary made about her story, 2006’s Who the #$&% is Jackson Pollock?, which previously featured on Knowledge Network.
6. Peter Paul Rubens drawing found in cupboard (UK):
Flemish artist Peter Paul Rubens is one of the most famous Baroque artists ever. His works have appeared in the Louvre, the Victoria and Albert Museum and the British Museum and have sold for tens of millions. One of his most famous subjects was Queen of France Marie de’Medici, who featured in four of Ruben’s pieces. In 2013 however, a fifth was discovered…in a cupboard. The piece was discovered at the UK’s University of Reading and had apparently been purchased for five British pounds ($10) in the 1950s as an example to be used for teaching. After being rediscovered four years ago, the value of the sketch is now estimated quite a bit higher at £75,000 ($150,000).
7. Fabergé egg found at flea market (US):
When it comes to world-famous eggs, the Easter Bunny has nothing on Peter Carl Fabergé. The famed jeweller’s ornamental eggs are not only sought after for their extravagance, but also for their rarity, as only 65 are currently accounted for. Imagine then, one scrap dealer’s surprise when he came across one at a U.S. flea market. Thinking it to be a simple reproduction, the dealer purchased the egg for $14,000 with the intention of scrapping it for its gold and jewels. It was only during a routine appraisal before its dismantling that the dealer learned he was in fact in possession of one of eight “lost” imperial Fabergé eggs; eggs created by Fabergé specifically for Russia’s royal family. The dealer subsequently sold the artifact for an undisclosed amount estimated to be in the tens of millions.
8. Alexander Calder sculpture found at flea market (US):
For some, it may have looked like a million other trinkets at a local flea market, but for Philadelphia’s Norma Ifill it was beautiful “tribal” necklace. Little did she know that her $15 flea-market find was actually a piece by renowned American sculptor Alexander Calder. Ifill only realized her necklace could be something more when she happened to visit a local exhibit on Calder and recognized the same style in other works. After approaching the Calder Foundation and receiving confirmation that the necklace was an authentic piece, Ifill subsequently sold it for a tidy $267,750.
9. Salvador Dali found in Goodwill (US):
While the buyers on this list all appear to have been unaware of the true value of their finds until later on, there is a documented instance when a seller knew exactly what they had in their possession– and got rid of it anyways. That was the case in 2012 when an anonymous donor dropped off a coloured sketch complete with certificate of authenticity to a Washington Goodwill. The artist of the piece? Famed Spanish surrealist Salvador Dali. After confirming the sketch was genuine and had not been stolen, Goodwill thanked the anonymous donor and auctioned the piece off as a fundraiser, selling it for $21,000.
10. Ansel Adams negatives discovered at garage sale (US):
As the saying goes, “One man’s junk is another man’s treasure.” That certainly proved to be true when a commercial painter named Rick Norsigian saw a shoebox full of vintage glass-plate photo negatives for sale at a California flea market. Bargaining the cost of the negatives down to $45 from $75, Norsigian said he forgot about the purchase for a few years before dusting them off and taking a closer look. After hiring someone to look further into the origins of the images he was stunned to hear that they were possible works by Ansel Adams, the “father” of U.S. photography. However, Adams’ estate disputed the claim and both parties settled out of court, leaving Norsigian unable to specifically name Ansel Adams in the selling of the prints. If, the negatives are indeed Adams originals, they carry a potential value of up to $200 million.