An art trove found in an abandoned barn by a mechanic may be worth millions of dollars.
Jared Whipple heard from a friend of his that there was something odd in a dumpster in an abandoned barn in Watertown, Connecticut. Curious, he went out and found hundreds of paintings, sculptures, and small drawings, all by a single artist. It took him a little while to track down the identity, but he found that all of the works were by Francis Hines, an abstract impressionist of worldwide fame in certain circles. Hines, who passed away at 96 in 2016, had stored his ‘unsuccessful’ work in that barn. And it had been abandoned by his estate after his death. The art and sculptures were dirt-crusted and filthy, but Whipple could tell they were something special.
Hines was an artist of many mediums, but he found international fame for his “wrapping” pieces, large installations in which he wrapped famous buildings, sculptures, or other works of art in long, long strips of cloth or plastic in intricate patterns. He made “wrappings” on the Washington Square Arch, JFK International Airport, and the Port Authority Bus Terminal, as well as half a dozen other buildings in New York. Then he moved on to Europe, where he wrapped the Arc de Triomphe in Paris (without permission), and dozens of other monuments.
Some of the paintings Whipple discovered were Hines’s paintings of his own “wrapping” artworks, ranging from small canvases the size of a book to massive pieces that would take up a wall. According to art curator and historian Peter Hastings Falk, the paintings of the wrappings, many of which include embedded gauze strips, could draw more than $20,000 at auction, and the artist’s concept drawings around $4500 a piece. Whipple’s right to the art trove is clear – he contacted the artist’s family shortly after his discovery, who allowed him to keep and sell any of it.
Whipple has put the best of the collection on display at the Hollis Taggart gallery in Southport, CT. The show will open May 5th.