Painting Bought For $4 Turns Out To Be An Amazing Masterpiece, Gets Auctioned For $191,000

September 24, 2023
3 mins read

Many expensive items like painting, garments, show pieces are lost in trade and sold at a much-reduced price at auction. From rare coins and cars to books and celebrity clothing, the value of such goods is revealed as the bidding war begins.

You may quickly leave Manchester’s Savers with a piece of clothing for as low as $4. Framed artworks that are too large for the shelves rest against one of the walls, costume jewellery, showpieces, and whatnot come at the lowest possible rate. According to the thrift store manager, buying there is like going on a personal treasure hunt, which was undoubtedly the case for one woman who found the find of a lifetime in 2017.

Thrift stores

Story of the painting

A lady was pushing a metal cart in Savers and was on a hunt for home decor, probably planning to set up her new house. That is when she came across a dusty picture in a large wooden frame among a stack of posters and prints. The painting had two women in it, and they seemed to be in a fight or disapproval with each other, the older woman expressing her stern odium. 

The woman said the painting had something unique that she was drawn to purchasing. Hence, she put it in her cart and got her things billed. Guess the price she paid for that painting back then? $4. That’s it. 

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People made fun of her when she acquired it. She had previously installed it in the drawing room, but after garnering criticism, she withdrew it and stored it within her house. 

But later, something struck her. There was a signed label on the back of the painting, and she decided to post a picture of the artwork on Facebook. People then started reaching out to her, said it was valuable, and asked her to contact a curator at the Brandywine Museum in Chadds Ford, PA, and a former Wyeth curator in Maine named Lauren Lewis. After all these speculations, she finally found out the actual value of the painting. 

The woman had no idea that in 2017, she had hauled out an oil panel by N.C. Wyeth, one of the twentieth century’s best American illustrators, is famed for bringing classic stories like “Treasure Island,” “Robin Hood,” and “Robin Crusoe” to life.

The illustrator, N.C. Wyeth

The picture was titled “Ramona, after Helen Hunt Jackson’s 1884 novel of the same name. The one-of-a-kind painting illustrates the bond between an orphan girl and her stepmother, which the novel is all about. So, it was another visual depiction of a classic by the great illustrator.

Experts say “Ramona” was probably a gift from book publishers to an editor or author’s estate. But exactly how it wound up at the Savers in Manchester is still being determined.

Lauren Lewis, an art conservator, was one among several who contacted the artist after viewing the artwork on social media. According to the owner, she and her husband eventually wrapped the picture in a blanket, piled it into the back of their SUV, and drove about 90 minutes to meet Lewis in a bus terminal parking lot. With a magnifying glass, Lewis became enthralled and discussed parts of the work that the owner had never explored, such as its brushstrokes.

So, the pair abandoned their lunch plans and drove straight home to rehang the painting. The owner’s husband placed pillows on the floor beneath it after they were made aware of how precious the painting was.

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The book version

The frontispiece illustration is currently up for auction as part of a four-image set created by Wyeth for a Ramona edition published in 1939. It’s a collection of artworks meant to bring the story to life. 

That single painting, which the woman bought for $4, is getting sold at the auction for $191,000. So, an investment of $4 on a particular day to decorate her house could bring her such great fortune one day. Who would have expected? 

The woman has requested anonymity because she is becoming incredibly wealthy due to selling a well-known painting. As a result, she wishes to remain anonymous to avoid any disruption to herself or her family. 

The fortune the painting has brought her and her family has helped them start thinking about the bills they can pay and a trip to Germany to visit one of their children.

Knowing she would soon be parting ways with the picture, its owner purchased a copy of the 1939 version of “Ramona painting” on Amazon. Despite being a bibliophile, she intends to frame Wyeth’s illustration of the two women.

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Small town girl with big dreams. Pursuing her Masters degree in Journalism from Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communication, and aiming towards being a Travel Journalist. An avid reader, dancer and ever ready to pen down thoughts. Always up for binge watching and chai on repeat. A travel enthusiast, dog-lover, foodie, patron of art and culture. Preacher of the following vision by Vincent Van Gogh, "What is done in love, is done well".

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