A thrift store art find could be worth at least $20k

A thrift store find has turned out to potentially be a $20,000 windfall for an art lover in British Columbia.

Stephen Burgess is a thrifty man, but one who loves to fill his home with art. He regularly browses secondhand stores for art, he told his local paper. But when he spotted what he assumed was a mass-produced print of a landscape in a Value Village, he just wanted it for the ornate, baroque-style frame. Because of the frame, the painting was $120 in a shop where most things are under $15, but he still felt like that was a good deal.

Imagine his surprise when he discovered a provenance stamp on the back of the canvas, and intact brush-strokes on the perimeter of the painting, where the frame had preserved texture. What he had was no reproduction, but an original work.

The painting is a work by Gerritjen Wijmer, a Dutch artist who worked around the beginning of the twentieth century. Wijmer, while so unknown by the general public that he doesn’t even rate a Wikipedia page, is still a name of note in art collecting circles. His most famous painting, Mountain Mist, sold in the U.S. several years ago for $200,000.

If Burgess is able to have his Wijmer authenticated and appraised, he would likely be looking at a sale of at least $20,000 or as much as $350,000 if the condition is right and the story of the chance find catches a buyer’s fancy. If he wants those high numbers, he should perhaps take some more care to storage, but he says he’s currently enjoying having the one-of-a-kind thrift store find hanging among his children’s art in his home.

If Burgess can connect with a qualified appraiser or auction house, he wants to auction off the painting and donate the funds to the Comox Valley Hospice Society.

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