A woman from Baltimore, who chooses to remain anonymous, recently purchased a Renoir from a Flea Market in West Virginia. She purchased a box of items for $7 and the painting was included in the box. She claimed she bought the box because of the frame that the picture was in: she really liked that frame.
She takes the painting home, places it in a plastic bag and then puts it in the shed. She then hangs it in her kitchen and then puts it in the back of her car. She decides she is just going to take the painting out of its frame until her mother sees the Renoir signature along with a French gallery label and a stock number.
The anonymous woman then takes the painting to be authenticated at the Potomak Auction House. It is authenticated and is valued at $75000 to $100000. It is expected to sell for possibly more since the story itself has the artworld spinning on its axis. This painting hasn’t been heard about since 1926 according to CBS Baltimore, and this woman finds it in a flea market a half-world away; not only is the auction for the painting but for the story as well.
The painting will go to auction on September 29.
Coming across this type of story makes me want to make a list of all of the flea markets in the United States and begin to go to them one by one. The moment I heard the story I began to wonder what I would do, how I would react, if I was destined to make such a find.
However, after reading Caveat Emptor by Ken Perenyi, it also makes me a little skeptical. The market is flooded with fakes right now most of which are bought and sold at flea markets and auction houses according to the story told by Perenyi. Perenyi even tells his personal account(s) of fooling so-called experts into believe that paintings that were created days prior by him were indeed created over one hundred years ago by some American master. So, if I were the one investing in this painting, I would need to know for sure that I am getting what I am buying.
Anyway, this is still a cool story for one unexpecting and lucky woman.
Thank you for reading,