Sometimes it pays to buy the former house of an obscure Armenian-American artist, a lesson recently learned by lucky new home owners Thomas Schultz and Lawrence Joseph.
According to News 12 in Long Island, New York, the duo purchased a massive collection of artworks by little-known painter Arthur Pinajian along with his old Bellport cottage. They bought the rare find for $2,500 in 2007, on top of the $300,000 cost of the house, and proceeded to restore, frame and appraise the paintings, drawings and journals found in the garage.
Well, it turns out their decision to buy Mr. Pinajian's art stash along with the house was a good one, as the collection has now been valued at a remarkable $30 million, according to the Wall Street Journal. Individual works have already sold for a whopping $500,000, and now the abstract impressionist artist's works are on view at a gallery opened by Schultz, as well as in Manhattan's Fuller Building.
The posthumous attention is unusual for an artist who "did not conform to today’s norms," art historian Peter Hastings Falk tells The Armenian Weekly. "He painted every day, but no one saw his art. He received no reviews and not one of his paintings or works on paper ever was shown in a New York gallery or museum.” In fact, Pinajian's work was actually meant to be dumped in the Brookhaven landfill, per the artist's request; however, his family didn't go along with the instructions.
We're sure Schultz and Joseph, who confessed to the New York Times that they weren't "big art people," are thankful for the Pinajian family's oversight. Let us know what you think of the unexpected art find in the comments.
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Jane Cordery, an art teacher in Hampshire, England, discovered this detailed bird portrait in her attic after attempting to clean the space for a plumber. She e-mailed a photograph of the find to Christie's, where "The White Owl," was identified as the work of pre-Raphaelite artist William James Webbe, and valued at £70,000, or $113,449.
A lost painting by Leonardo da Vinci may have turned up in a Scottish farmhouse owned by a family of non-collectors, named the McLarens. The discovered portrait, which should be officially dated by next year, bears telltale hairlines, shoulders, toes, and a hidden fleur-de-lys that point to Da Vinci, as well as a likeness to a traced figure in the "Last Supper." If the farmhouse find is indeed a 500-year-old original, it is may be worth over $150 million.
A mysterious donor dropped off a signed etching by Surrealist master Salvador Dali at a Goodwill in Tacoma, Washington this year, where an art-savvy employee quickly identified it. It was since added to the organization's online auction system, where it sold for a bargain price of $21, 005.
Here's one of those art find stories that's dramatic for the wrong reasons. Reinhold Hoffmann, a 70-year-old retiree, captured the attention of European media when his partner bought a $25 book of old stamps at a Dresden, Germany, flea market, and one of them of them looked like a one-cent stamp from 1867 potentially worth $3 million, featuring Benjamin Franklin and a rare "Z Grill" pattern. The Philatelic Foundation quickly gave Hoffman the bad news: just one of those lame F Grills, bro.
A luckier German bargain shopper stumbled across the rare book treasure of a lifetime. A consultation with the auction house Ketterer Kunst revealed that a brochure he paid €5 for, a catalog for a 1912 traveling exhibition of German expressionist Die Brücke artists, is valued at €18,000, or $23,400.
Like most unsuspecting thrifters, Beth Feeback wasn't aware of her painting's famous origins when she bought it at a North Carolina Goodwill for $9.99. In fact the artist, who specializes in portraits of cats, was just looking to upcycle an unwanted canvas for her own work. But a quick Google search of a name printed on the back of the canvas prevented her from turning the original Ilya Bolotowsky into scrap. ABC News reports that Feeback sold her abstract find for $27,000 at auction.
A woman who bought a $7 box lot at a flea market unwittingly scored a painting by Pierre-August Renoir. But don't get too jealous: "Renoir Girl," as the finder was known to the media, wasn't able to cash in her original "Paysage Bords De Seine." In a dramatic twist, the painting that launched a thousand flea market visits turned out to be stolen six decades ago from the Baltimore Museum of Art.
Pam Dwyer's purchase of a horse painting at a yard sale in Arizona turned out to be more than it seemed. On a hunch, Dwyer and her husband removed the work from the frame only to uncover a portrait of President John F. Kennedy from 1961, by the infamous forger and artist Carmelo Soraci. While the painting is proving tough to appraise, experts note that its historical significance makes it a good fit for a place like the Smithsonian.
Sometimes you just don't like a painting, no matter how "great" it is. That's how one Scottish woman felt in the early 1960s, when her husband came home with a painting of roses that she disliked enough to banish to a spare room. Let this be a lesson to those who are easily dismissive of gifts. The BBC reports that the painting in question was recently identified as "Pink Roses," an original oil work by one of Scotland's most influential artists, Samuel Peploe, valued by McTear's Auctioneers in Glasgow at £300,000. The price the obedient husband originally paid? "Not significant enough to remember," according to the unnamed seller, who is the couple's son.