ASK THE artsperts about a Treasure Hunt by Kristine Meek and Juliana Meek

Dear Artsperts,
Do you think it is possible to come across a “find” for works of art at a thrift store? With everything so easily searchable even from our smartphones, do valuable works of art still end up in thrift

Dear Thrifty,
Yes, it can and does happen that valuable works of art are found at thrift stores. Two such scenarios happened recently.

A year ago, we received a call from a woman who had in her possession a small watercolor by Hunt Slonem with our gallery label on the back. She called to find out more information. She was not even sure it was real because when she searched on Hunt Slonem, there were no other watercolors listed. However, with our label on the back, she called us and of course we did know the history of the work. Hunt Slonem painted just a few watercolors in his career, preferring to work primarily with oil paint. In the early 2000’s our father was asked to help support a charity by donating works to a raffle. He approached a few of our artists and Slonem was one of the artists willing to participate. Slonem created several watercolors for the charity raffle. After explaining the history of the work and telling the caller that it was in fact a real Slonem, we asked her how she came to own it. She replied that we wouldn’t like the answer, but it was in the last chance bin of the Goodwill in Ft. Myers. She was absolutely thrilled to know it was a real Slonem. She had no intentions of selling as she was so excited to know that she in fact now owned a painting by Hunt Slonem. We were very happy for her!

A second scenario happened just last month. We received a call from someone who found three small works by Richard Segalman at St Matthew’s House thrift store. These works did not have our label on the back, but when the caller searched on Richard Segalman, our Gallery website popped up. As she described them, we could tell these were early Segalman works from the 70s prior to when we started representing him in the 80s. The caller was thrilled to know more about Richard Segalman and is so happy to have the works in her collection.

We can only guess how these works ended up in thrift stores. Most likely the owners passed away and those inheriting the works never thought the small works would be of value. The Slonem was won by a raffle ticket at a charity event, so there was no receipt and not a lot of money spent for it in the first place. The Segalman works were in simple 1970s frames and did not look like they would be of value because of the frames.

We appreciate the eagle-eyed thrifters who are on the lookout for works of art that may be valuable. The Slonem watercolor and three small Segalman works found new homes where they are once again appreciated. The only caveat is that there is a buyer beware since there can be fake works of art floating around…a topic for our next artsperts!

The Artsperts

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