/ 29 June 2008

Thrift-store painting worth $40 000

An old painting dropped off at a rural thrift store turned out to be a work by a French Impressionist. And now, thanks to the sharp eye of a store employee, the charitable organisation is $40 000 richer.

The Parisian street scene, left at a Goodwill thrift store in Maryland in March along with daily donations of pots, pans, old clock radios and other items, turned out to be a work by Edouard-Leon Cortes, probably from the early 20th century.

The painting — called Marche aux fleurs (Flower Market) — was sold for $40 600 at a Sotheby’s auction a few weeks ago.

”It could have very easily ended up put in a pile, marked for $20,” says Ursula Villar, marketing and development director for Goodwill Industries of the Chesapeake.

Store manager Terri Tonelli said employees asked her to look at the donated painting because they suspected it was valuable. She found the artist’s name on Google and discovered that Cortes was a notable French Impressionist whose work had sold at auction for prices near $60 000.

If the owner of the painting wants the money, he or she may be out of luck. Goodwill says it doesn’t keep track of donors. Donations, meanwhile, are gifts that are considered legal and final transactions. — Sapa-AP