(NewsNation) — In a true tale of “one person’s trash is another person’s treasure,” a New Hampshire woman made a remarkable discovery at a thrift store that could turn her $4 investment into more than $250,000.
The story began when she purchased an old painting while searching for frames at an area thrift store.
The painting sat in her home for years and at one point in her closet, until she posted it to a Facebook group.
And that’s when it caught the eye of art conservator Lauren Lewis, who recognized the painting was an original work by renowned American illustrator NC Wyeth, dating to 1939.
Lewis has worked with the Wyeth family since 1998 and recognized the painting’s potential significance.
“I happened to be scrolling through one day in mid-May, and I saw photos of this piece with the tagline, ‘Is this real?'” Lewis said. “That happens fairly often, but what intrigued me about this one is she included photos of the back of the painting, and you can see the labels. And so that made me look a little bit closer.”
Lewis noticed that the labels and other details appeared authentic.
She decided to reach out to the owner, offering to assess the painting’s condition in person.
The revelation that it was indeed an original NC Wyeth painting left both the owner and the art world astounded.
Lewis said $250,000 is the going rate for NC Wyeth paintings.
“He was the preeminent illustrator of the early 20th century. And his works are what a lot of people think of when they think of Treasure Island, or, you know, some of the other books that he illustrated,” Lewis said. “And so the fact that this painting, which has been missing for 80 years, and suddenly turns up, is just fantastic for the art world.”
When asked about the odds of such a discovery occurring, Lewis described it as a one-in-a-million occurrence.
“I’ve never seen something like this happen,” she said. “You hear the urban legends of, you know, finding an original Picasso or at a garage sale or that sort of thing, but this is … something that’s really amazing.”