September 1, 2023 | 2:05 a.m
A $4 piece of art purchased at a New Hampshire thrift store six years ago can net the buyer hundreds of thousands of dollars because it was created by an American art master.
In August 2017, a woman discovered this at a Savers thrift store in Manchester, New Hampshire when she looked for tires she could repair and resell.
She bought it – she has no information on the photo – for $4 and brought it home.
The artwork turned out to be a creation of Newell Convers (NC) Wyeth, and is set to go under the hammer on September 19 with an estimated price of $150,000 to $250,000, according to the listing. Bonhams Skinner Auctions.
This artwork was part of a four-piece series created for a 1939 edition of Helen Hunt Jackson’s 1884 novel “Ramona,” about a Scottish-American girl living in Southern California after the Mexican-American War.
The auction house said, “Wyeth brilliantly depicts the tension between Ramona and her stern and overbearing foster mother, Señora Moreno” in this piece.
Wyeth, a Massachusetts-born artist and illustrator with over 3,000 paintings, is known for his “ability to heighten the drama and character development of subtext through his work.”
Only one other of Wyeth’s fragments of the book has been recovered, as this fragment was most likely a gift from the book’s publishing company to the editor or the author’s estate.
The auction house believes the frame holding the painting was chosen by Wyeth himself as a base mold to protect the edges and corners of his works when he traveled by train from his studio in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, to publishers in Philadelphia or New York.
The woman, who asked to remain anonymous, told auction house Bonhams Skinner that she “joked about it being a real painting.” According to the Boston Globe.
The painting had hung in the woman’s bedroom for years before it was moved to a cupboard and was only discovered in May when she was cleaning out her house.
The woman’s curiosity about the artwork returned again after finding it again, and this time she decided to post a photo of the piece of art on the Facebook page Objects in the Walls – and Other Hidden Findings A group for people to share stories of items they find hidden in mysterious places.
Her post was seen by conservator Loren Lewis of Maine, who at one time managed several NC Wyeth shows at the Farnsworth Museum. There she began working with the Wyeth Studies Center and worked closely with the painter’s son Andrew and grandson Jimmy, According to its website.
Lewis had worked with several of Wyeth’s works and decided to consult the woman when she concluded she was “99 percent sure it was authentic,” Lewis told the Boston Globe.
She added: “My assessment of the condition is that although there are certainly some small scratches and the surface can be cleaned, it was in fantastic condition considering that none of us had any idea of its journey over the past 80 years.”
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