Visit our Online Flea Market!

February 27, 2014

We all love to hear stories about people who find treasure at flea markets, in thrift shops, and even in their attic.  Today I'm going to post some (almost) unbelievable stories about sudden riches uncovered by unsuspecting shoppers and homeowners.

An anonymous donor dropped off a signed etching by Surrealist master Salvador Dali at a Goodwill store in Tacoma, Washington.  An employee quickly suspected that it might be an original and experts were called in to authenticate the work.  It was added to the organization's online auction and the winning bidder only paid $21,000.

No, it's not a contemporary kite:
Beth Feeback walked into a North Carolina Goodwill store and paid $9.99 for an attractive contemporary piece of art.  The name Ilya Bolotowsky was written on the back of the painting and further investigation revealed that it was, in fact, an original work.  Ms. Feeback eventually sold the painting at auction for $27,000.

Paysage Bords de Seine is an original Pierre-August Renoir painting purchased for $7 with a box lot of items at a Maryland flea market.  Unfortunately, the painting had been stolen from the Baltimore Museum of Art 60 years earlier.  "Renoir Girl," the lady who found the discovery, sadly wasn't able to cash in on her Find of A Lifetime.  But at least it was returned to its rightful owners.

This beautiful painting was given to a Scottish lady in the early 1960s.  She never really cared for the work and hung it in an unused guest room for over 50 years.  The painting was recently identified as "Pink Roses," an original oil work by Samuel Peploe, one of Scotland's most influential artists.   When asked how much he originally paid for the painting the lady's husband replied that the sum was so small he truthfully couldn't remember. Value:  $500,000

Have you ever been in the presence of
original Leonardo da Vinci work of art?
The McLarens, a Scottish farming family, couldn't remember a time when this old painting wasn't hanging in their farm house.  The 500-year-old treasure, though not signed, turned out to be a lost painting credited to daVinci.  Value: over $150 Million

A German bargain shopper came across a rare book find of a lifetime.  At a flea market he paid $11 for an original catalog of the 1912 exhibition of German Expressionist Die Brucke artists.  Value:  $23,400

Art teacher Jane Cordery of Hampshire, England, was cleaning her attic and uncovered a bird portrait painting, left.  She emailed a photo of it to Christies Auction House where it was identified as "The White Owl" by pre-Raphaelite artist William James Webbe.

It's value: $115,000 to $125,000

As odd as this sounds, Barbie dolls that are manufactured in Asia command big bucks from serious collectors if the doll's bottom has a "Japan" stamp on it.  Value:  $2,500

Norma Ifill was browsing through a flea market outside Philadelphia in 2005 and ran across a striking silver necklace, above, which she purchased for $15.  While attending an exhibition of work by American jewelry designer Alexander Calder three years ago, Ifill was struck by how similar her necklace was to those on display.  She took her necklace back to the exhibit for evaluation and the rest is hi$tory.  Christies Auction House has added the necklace to their inventory of an upcoming auction and it is expected to bring between $250,000 and $300,000.

So, what have we learned from today's post?  Keep digging - whether it's at a flea market, in thrift shops, at an estate sale or in your own attic. 

Treasures are waiting to be discovered!


  1. great post. I would probably have missed out on most of these, although I probably would have gone for the owl........anyway roll on Spring so I can be out treasure hunting again

  2. I love to thrift but never find anything that exciting!