Auction Hunters: Pawn Shop Edition - Great Auction Finds

January 29, 2013

You never know what you'll find at an auction, flea market, or pawn shop. Some have found priceless heirlooms, antiques, and even works from famous artists that were previously thought to be lost to history. To the untrained eye, they might be the artistic equivalent of living room knick-knacks useful for the frame but not much else. But you never know when you might find a Renoir or a Dali.

Here are some recent examples.

The $7 Renoir Landscape

A woman visited a West Virginia flea market when a gold frame caught her eye. The painting herself didn't really say much to her. In fact, she was closely eyeing a plastic cow that was on display nearby. She bought the painting for the frame, paying a grand total of seven dollars, with the intent of at some point removing the painting inside and tossing it out. She held onto it for a year and a half until she discovered that the painting she didn't care much for was actually a lost landscape from French impressionist Pierre-Auguste Renoi. The painting is said to be worth upwards of $100,000. However, its sale at auction was postponed when it was discovered that it had been stolen from a Baltimore museum nearly sixty years before ending up in the Shenandoah Valley flea market where it was purchased. Well, at least she has a good story.

The $34,500 Goodwill Find

Another woman in Concord, North Carolina had slightly better luck. After purchasing a pair of paintings from a Goodwill that she planned to strip down for their canvases (she specializes in painting cat faces), she found out that one of them was actually a work by Russian abstract artist Ilya Bolotowsky. She later sold the painting through Soethby's for $34,500.

Office Art

And we're not talking a program from Microsoft. Rather, it was "Interior," a work by post-impressionist painter Henri Le Sidaner that was hanging without fanfare in a Pittsburgh Public School District's finance office until its true value and importance was discovered. Lost for decades, the piece will eventually be sold at auction, with funds going to restore other artwork the District owns. It's estimated to be worth about half a million dollars, but could go for even more than that; some of Le Sidaner's work has sold for $900,000.

Dali Drop-Off

Someone dropped off an etching at a Tacoma, Washington Goodwill and didn't bother leaving their name. They're probably kicking themselves now, because one of the employees recognized the etching as the work of famed 20th century surrealist painter Salvador Dali. Goodwill ended up putting it up for auction on their website, where it sold for $21,005.

Of course, finds like these aren't just limited to paintings - which is why the Auction Hunters have been able to mark out a decent living for themselves. Ton and Allen will engage in a whole new adventure and enterprise on Jan 30 at 9/8c with the season premiere of Auction Hunters: Pawn Shop Edition. What treasures will be brought to them? Tune in to find out!

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Source: DON EMMERT/ATP/Hulton Archive/FRANCOIS GUILLOT/Bruno Vincent/Fred W. McDarrah/Getty Images News