A painting bought in a charity shop for just USD 5 has been sold at auction as a modern masterpiece for nearly USD 200,000.
The lucky buyer, who has not been named, bought the canvas at a Savers discount store in Manchester, in the US state of New Hampshire, simply because she liked it.
But she was astonished when experts identified it as ‘Ramona’, a lost work by celebrated American artist N.C. Wyeth, after she posted a snap of it on Facebook.
Art conservator Lauren Lewis immediately recognised the piece and examined it in person.
The painting went under the hammer at Bonhams Skinner for USD 191,000 (GBP 156,000), on 19th September.
Wyeth was one of America’s most prolific and best-loved artists and illustrators, taking in the dying days of the Wild West and the birth of modern America.
The painting is identified as a long-lost illustration that was part of a four-work set by Wyeth.
Bonhams say Ramona was one of four illustrations that Wyeth contributed to the 1939 edition of Helen Hunt Jackson’s novel of the same name.
Newsflash obtained a statement from Bonhams Skinner saying: “This work was likely gifted by the publishers to an editor or the author’s estate, but its location was unknown until it was found by chance in a New Hampshire antique shop by the owner.”
Before the auction, called American Art, they said: “American Art will present Ramona, a frontispiece illustration for the 1939 edition of Helen Hunt Jackson’s novel of the same name, by Newell Convers Wyeth (1882-1945).
“Wyeth, renowned for his ability to increase the drama and character development of accompanying text through his work, contributed four illustrations to the novel, only one other of which has been located.
“This work was likely gifted by the publishers to an editor or the author’s estate, but its location was unknown until it was found by chance in a New Hampshire antique shop by the present owner. It is estimated to achieve between USD 150,000 – 250,000.”
Savers store manager Shaun Edson, who sold the painting, says he has no idea who bought the painting or who donated it.
He said: “From what I understand, that painting was donated through our donation centre and then made its way out to the floor.
“Our donations are done anonymously.”
He added: “There’s definitely more people going through the art section of the store.”