I am always interested in stories of invaluable pieces of art being found in someone’s home, perhaps in their attic or hanging inconspicuously somewhere  in their house, while the inhabitants for years, perhaps decades, go about their business without realising the treasure that they have. It makes me wonder how the value of such seemingly invaluable things gets lost with time where these items become nothing more than trinkets in one’s home that nobody gives a second glance, perhaps packing it away or even worse selling it for a few pennies at a garage sale.  Having watched enough of the Antiques Road Show, it was actually a requirement of one of my museum studies courses, these things seem to happen more often than I would hope.

Take the recent discovery of two valuable paintings by Paul Gauguin and Pierre Bonnard, stolen in 1970, in someone’s kitchen of all places; the owners blissfully unaware of the true value of what they actually possessed. The paintings are valued at $16-45 million Canadian and for 40 years they simply were lost, stolen from a home in London and then somehow lost by the thief on a train (one would think after going through with such a heist he’d been more careful), to finally end up in the possession of their current owner, who bought them in a lost property sale for a measly $500! The true saga now begins. Who owns these paintings? Your guess is as good as mine…

But perhaps this gives hope to the rest of us that one day we too may end up with a masterpiece worth millions for less than a couple of coffees, perhaps purchased at some god awful hour of a Sunday morning trip to local garage sales. One can only hope! Happy hunting…


April 11, 2014

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