A $4 piece of art bought six years ago at a thrift store in New Hampshire could fetch hundreds of thousands of dollars for the buyer because it was created by an American art master.
In August 2017, a woman made the discovery at a Savers thrift store in Manchester, New Hampshire while looking for frames to repair and resell.
Having no information about the photo, she bought it for $4 and brought it home.
The artwork turned out to be a creation of Newell Convers (NC) Wyeth, which a listing from Sept. 19 said is set to go up for auction with an estimated bid price of between $150,000 and $250,000 Bonhams Skinner auction house.
The artwork was part of a series of four pieces created for the 1939 edition of Helen Hunt Jackson’s 1884 novel Ramona, about a Scottish-American girl living in Southern California after the Mexican-American War lives.
“Wyeth cleverly depicts the tension between Ramona and her strict and bossy foster mother, Señora Moreno, in the artwork,” according to the auction house.
A Massachusetts-born artist and illustrator with over 3,000 paintings, Wyeth is “known for his ability to enhance the drama and character development of the accompanying text through his work.”
Only one other piece by Wyeth was found for the book, as this piece was most likely a gift from the book publisher to an editor or the author’s estate.
The auction house believes that the frame holding the painting was chosen by Wyeth himself as a baseboard to protect the edges and corners of his works as they took the train from his studio in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania to publishers in Philadelphia or New York travelled.
The woman, who wished to remain anonymous, told auction house Bonhams Skinner that she “joked that it was a real painting”. according to the Boston Globe.
The painting hung in the woman’s bedroom for years before it was moved to a closet and only rediscovered in May while she was cleaning her house.
The woman’s curiosity about the artwork was piqued again after she found it again, and this time she decided to post a photo of the artwork on the Facebook page “Things found in walls – and other hidden finds”, A group where people can tell stories about objects they find hidden in unknown places.
Her contribution was seen by Maine conservator Lauren Lewis, who once directed several NC Wyeth exhibits at the Farnsworth Museum. There she began working with the Wyeth Study Center and worked closely with the painter’s son Andrew and grandson Jamie. according to their website.
Lewis has worked with many of Wyeth’s works and decided to counsel the woman when she concluded that she was “99 percent sure it was authentic,” Lewis told the Boston Globe.
“My assessment of the condition was that while it did have some minor scratches and could use a surface cleaning, it was in remarkable condition considering none of us had any idea of its voyage over the last 80 years,” added she added.