Thrift Store Treasure: Woman Finds $250,000 Wyeth Painting for $4

Thrift Store Treasure: Woman Finds $250,000 Wyeth Painting for $4

You can walk out of a Savers store in Manchester, New Hampshire, with a shirt for $4.99. There are $2 rings for those who want to wear cheap jewelry. “Shopping there is like a personal treasure hunt,” says the thrift store manager, which was certainly the case for one woman who made the find of a lifetime in 2017.

As the woman was pushing a metal cart through the store on a trip to look for home decor, she noticed a dusty painting with a large wooden frame among a pile of posters and flyers. It depicted two women confronting each other, with the older one showing signs of intense anger on her face.

The lady shopper was immediately drawn to the painting – who are these two ladies? Why did they appear so nervous? – Then I put it in the shopping cart. Minutes later, she was leaving the store with a real oil painting by Newell Convers Wyeth, one of the most prominent American painters of the twentieth century, known for bringing to life classic stories such as “Treasure Island,” “Robin Hood,” and “Robinson Crusoe.” .

The bill for the long-lost artwork, which is expected to sell at auction Tuesday for between $150,000 and $250,000, was just $4.

The drawing “Ramona” by American artist “Newell Convers Wyeth” is offered at auction for $250,000 (Bonhams)

“We look at all the donations we receive and put a value on them as much as we can,” store manager Shawn Edson said. We are not experts in paintings. We do our best to evaluate and price the pieces appropriately.”

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The owner of the painting recalled the sequence of events in a phone interview with the New York Times, on condition of anonymity because she is about to become richer from selling the painting that has aroused great interest.

After purchasing the piece, the buyer placed it in her bedroom before setting it aside in a closet containing school pictures and other items. When she discovered the business again in May and noticed a signed tag on the back, she decided to post some photos of it on Facebook.

Lauren Lewis, a visual artist and art conservator, was among those who reached out to her after seeing the painting on social media. Eventually, the owner said, she and her husband wrapped the painting in a blanket, put it in the back of the car, and drove about 90 minutes to meet Ms. Lewis in the bus station parking lot.

Using a magnifying glass, Lewis got very excited and talked about aspects of the artwork that the owner had never thought of, such as brush strokes.

So, the couple canceled their plans to stop for lunch and instead drove straight home to rehang the painting. This time, the owner’s husband placed pillows on the floor beneath the painting.

“How is that possible?” Ms. Lewis said, and she had been asking herself ever since she saw Wyeth’s painting on Facebook.

“It’s all very serendipitous,” she added. “It all came together in a beautiful and wonderful way.”

The drawing, which is now being offered at auction, is part of a group of four images that Wyeth contributed to the 1939 edition of the novel “Ramona” by Helen Hunt Jackson, about an orphan girl living in Southern California after the Mexican-American War.

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The illustration, also called “Ramona,” depicts the tension between the young woman and her adoptive mother, according to the catalog notes provided by Bonhams Skinner, which also says Wyeth was known for his “bright colors and skillful use of lights and shadows.”

Wyeth’s work appears at the Brandywine Museum in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, and he is part of one of the most prominent artistic families in the United States. The Museum of Modern Art owns Christina’s World by Andrew Wyeth, one of Newell Convers Wyeth’s five children.

Experts say that “Ramona” may have been a gift from book publishers to the editor or to the author’s address. But it is not clear exactly how she ended up at the Savers store in Manchester.

The owner of the painting says that good things like what we find in thrift stores do not often happen to people like her or her husband. They began to allow themselves to think about the bills they could pay, and a vacation to Germany to visit one of their children.

When the owner of the painting realized that she would soon part with it, she bought a copy of the 1939 novel “Ramona” from Amazon. Although she is a book lover, she plans to take down Newell Convers Wyeth’s drawing of the two women and put it in a frame.

*New York Times Service

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