when does a $100 painting found at the Goodwill end up costing $3,600?
Just before Thanksgiving 2013, an investor reached-out to Darwin Musselman's heirs via e-mail to inquire about a painting's authenticity.
The inquiry pointed to an auction website for the Goodwill network. Unfortunately, the telltale details of the back of the painting were covered with a paper backing, and the painting title listed on the website was not found in the extensive records of Musselman's work. Given that, the family was concerned of the painting's authenticity.
The local Goodwill center (in Oregon) was reached, and they were able to pry-off the paper covering on the back of the painting to uncover its original title, and the requisite signature and coding system, in the artist's hand.
The painting's title was found in the vast records, under its original name. The center was asked to send a photograph of the codes on the back of the painting and other identifying marks which provided certain proof to the painting's authencity.
It turns out the painting was sold in 1959 to a physician in Utah. Nearly 55 years later, the painting was donated to a local Goodwill center in Oregon, which had the foresight to post the listing on the national Goodwill on-line auction site. They included the proper artist biographical information gleaned from this or other sites like Askart.com.
This listing caught the eye of a second investor who also reached out to the Musselman family for verification via the e-mail contact on this site. They were able to provide the same authentication, thanks to the previous inquiry.
Bidding started at $100, and ended a few days later at $3,601; the original inquirer had the posted the winning bid. Congratulations to the new owner and to Goodwill; their instinct to follow-through on a donation was indeed a record find.