How my 50 charity shop find was worth 4000!

So finding treasure is what every one dreams of right?

Pot of gold at the end of the rainbow?

Well not quite the story im going to tell but close!

How did i find my gold at the end of the rainbow, thats the question. It was actually sat in a charity shop in Sheffield, United Kingdom. Overcast, slight rainy day, nothing to write home about. Normal sunday afternoon, walked the dog, cooked a sunday dinner (Beef, yorkshire puddings all the trimmings, It was Amazing) But before i turn this into a cooking article and will resume what i started.

So an oldish looking man stumbles into our local charity shop, drunk as skunk. With one painting and one painting only. It was around 1m x 1m on canvas backed onto wood. Puts it by the desk and shouts “Donation” and walks out. It caused quite an atmosphere in shop, people all looking at each other as if the loch ness monster had popped in to say hello.

It was a great looking painting, bright colours, big obvious picture of a face almost mona lisa looking but with a splash of 70’s colours and flowers.

It occurred to me that the more you looked at this painting the more images it had underneath. You couldn’t quite focus on one, the more you looked the more you couldn’t get a jist of the picture.

So with curiosity i asked the till tender “How much for the painting?” It turned out to be the manager who laughed with a sneer of its worthless kind of feel. He replied “That painting, that will just go out on the back and will probably rot away in the rain, you don’t want that!” But my persistance got the better of me and i threw an offer of 40 at the manager. He laughed as if i was crazy.

Please bear in mind that i had no idea of its value.

So he took the 40.00 with a look of “What a fool this guy is” but my generous side gave an extra 10 because it was charity and i thought it was worth more.

Having hanged it up on my wall over Christmas, i recently took it down to re-decorate and noticed a small label on the back. Almost peeling away it said – National Portait Gallery Award 1994. So having chased it up with the gallery the updated me with the news that it had actually won the prize and the owner was looking to trace the painting as she gave it her ex-husband who they split around 2 years ago.

A few days later i received a phone call from the painter herself who actually told me a short story of how her ex-husband had told her he had burnt the painting!

To my dis-belief i felt sorry for her, i didnt take pity but i knew she had great pride in the art work. I asked her what she wanted to do with it and if she wanted it back also was she aware of the value. She was fully aware of the value but kindly told me to keep it and give it my kids one day when its worth more!

Who said good people dont exist anymore?

That is how my sunday afternoon, turned into a winding mystery with ex-husband, painters, drunk men and gallery winners!

If every sunday could only be like that!

Patrick Dever – Entrepenaur, cook, art finder

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