Valuable Paintings That Were Discovered At Goodwill

Anyone who has found a special piece of furniture or clothing while thrift shopping knows the unique thrill that comes with finding something that's been overlooked like by others. A small percentage of these bargain hunters, come across items they can resell for a profit. An even smaller percentage stumbles upon something that is invaluable.

For example, a Goodwill in Manassas, Virginia made headlines in 2013 — after a painting dropped off with a pile of sundry donations — turned out to be an original work of late-19th century Italian artist Giovanni Battista Torriglia (per The Washington Post).The painting, which shows an elderly woman delicately sipping a cup of tea holds true to Christie's depiction.

When Maria Rivera, a Goodwill employee of three years, saw the painting in the pile, she felt it must have some value so she set it aside ... never expecting what would come next.

'I knew we had some money here.'

According to Yahoo! News, Maria Rivera, the Goodwill employee who found the valuable Giovanni Battista Torriglia painting, happened to have seen a similarly styled portrait in a museum earlier. With the style of painting still fresh in her memory, she decided to pluck the Torriglia painting from the donation pile and place it with other items that might be of value.

"When merchandise is donated, our production managers are instructed to set aside anything that they think might be of substantial value," chief marketing officer of Goodwill of Greater Washington, Brendan Hurley, told the Washington Post.

"I didn't know how much at the time, but I knew we had some money here," said Rivera of her discovery. Had some money, they did. When Hurley took the painting to Murphy Kuhnert, a Georgetown art consulting firm, the painting was estimated to be worth about $12,000.

The painting was eventually put up for auction on Goodwill's auction site, where bids reached as high as $4,505 before reporters stopped following the story. Regardless of what the painting earned, Goodwill stated that all proceeds would go to its job-training program.

Salvador Dalí sketch shocks Goodwill

The discarded Giovanni Battista Torriglia painting found at a Goodwill in Manassas, Virginia was not the first instance of invaluable art being left at a Goodwill. In 2012, a Goodwill store in Tacoma, Washington was shocked to discover what appeared to be an original Salvador Dalí sketch (per Yahoo! News).

Unlike the Torriglia, the Dalí piece came with a certificate of authenticity which helped Goodwill employees verify its worth. The etching depicted a hand pointing at a small image, with two sketches of people in either corner. The hand, of course, was donning a melty watch, made famous by Dalí's "The Persistence of Memory."

Goodwill was quick to place this piece up for auction on their website, with the disclaimer, "The paper has some warping, as if from humidity. The upper right area of matting has some discolored speckling. The other damage is to the frame and glass—a few deep scratches and scuffs." Similar to the last piece, reporters quickly seemed to lose interest mid-auction. With four days left to go, the highest bid was reportedly $7,505.

Prehistoric piece unexpectedly pops up

Paintings aren't the only valuable items dropped off at the local Goodwill. A store in New York discovered an allegedly prehistoric piece of pottery that was discovered through "Goodwill's internal distribution system."

Inside the vase-shaped piece was a small note that read, "Found in a burial mound near Spiro, Oklahoma in 1970." Unlike the previous tales of hawk-eyed employees understanding the potential value of what they found, the employees at this Goodwill put the piece up for auction.

The pottery never even had a chance to hit more than $5 before several bidders, with souls of gold, pointed out that it might have more significance than Goodwill initially thought.

According to Yahoo News!, the piece is thought to be from the Spiro Mounds in Oklahoma. In an attempt to return the pottery to its rightful owners, Goodwill told reporters it was returning the piece to the Caddo Nation of Oklahoma.

Andy Warhol dupes the art world

If the above tales of hidden treasures have gotten your wheels turning, remember that there are plenty of fakes out there as well.

According to PetaPixel, Andy Fields, a British businessman, found a collection of 5 paintings that he liked and purchased for $5 — a steal in and of itself — before finding what he believed to be an original Andy Warhol sketch from when the prolific artist was merely 10 years old.

Fields didn't initially discover the painting until he decided he wanted a different frame. That's when he claims he found a crude Warhol sketch between the original painting and the backing of the frame. The sketch, which is fairly rudimentary, yet reminiscent of Warhol's later works, is of a man with red lips and pompadour who is alleged to be 1930s crooner, Rudy Vallée.

However, this story was later debunked after Andy Warhol's brother, who told Art Info, "[The piece] had no characteristics of his drawing style whatsoever and the signature was vastly unlike his real signature. It doesn't even come close to being like Warhol's early work."

Picasso lights up TikTok

Mor recently, a TikTok featuring another wild Goodwill discovery went viral. According to The Daily Dot, TikTok-er @thriftorthat posted a video with the caption, "Did someone just donate a real Picasso painting to Goodwill?" The TikTok video has garnered 1.7 million views to date and thousands of comments, with art lovers and critics alike flocking to see if this was yet another story of overlooked riches.

While the painting, which many people on the internet think looks like Ariana Grande, does have Picasso's signature and style, art critics were quick to point out it's probably a fake. One commenter wrote, "The original by Picasso, painted May 3, 1954, is in the collection at the Kunsthalle Bremen. [It] was acquired in 1955, it last went on view in 2014. The other hint is that the label for the block collection doesn't quite match the authentic tag."

A better story would end with this painting being the real Picasso, but that's the beauty of Goodwill — just like with everything in life, it's hard to tell the treasure from the trash.