I bought a charity shop painting for £3 and then forgot about it – but now experts say it's really worth £200,000 | The Sun

A BARGAIN hunter who bought a second-hand painting for just £3 could never have predicted its true value.

Now she could be about to sell the lost masterpiece for 65,000 times more than she paid for it.

In 2017, the woman bought the painting for almost nothing when she visited a second-hand saver store in the US state of New Hampshire.

With the intention of buying second-hand picture frames to re-purpose, the last thing she expected to be walking out with was her future fortune.

The beautiful painting caught her eye, however, with its rustic look and from then on she never looked back.

Having been wedged between a stack of artworks leaning up against the wall in the shop, the unassuming painting was dressed in a beat-up white frame.

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It was only 70cm by 50cm but one huge feature was the barely visible signature "N C Wyeth" in one of its corners.

This, along with its beauty, prompted the woman to conduct a brief internet search, but it quickly came to nothing.

That is, however, until she posted it on a Facebook page six years later.

Now, American and European works of art specialist at Bonhams Skinner, Kathleen Leland, is auctioning the painting at £200,000.

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“Not knowing what she had found, she joked about it being a real painting but after not finding anything in a quick internet search, didn’t give it another thought,” said Kathleen.

“The painting hung in her bedroom for a few years and was then stored away again in a closet.

"In May of this year while cleaning, she came across the painting again and posted some images of it on a Facebook page called Things Found in Walls.”

Members of the group were astounded at what they saw and quickly encouraged the woman to contact art conserver Lauren Lewis.

Ms Lewis, who previously worked at the Wyeth Study Center at the Farnsworth Art Museum, instantly drove three hours to meet her.

She believed that the piece was an authentic work by the prolific American illustrator Newell Convers Wyeth.

Wyeth painted some 4000 illustrations for books and magazines in the first half of the 20th Century and is most famous for his reprints of Robin Hood and Treasure Island.

The painting is now listed online after Ms Lewis told the Boston Globe she was “99 per cent certain it was authentic”.

She also spoke with a scholar on Wyeth’s work, who agreed it was “likely the original”.

Ms Lewis was astonished that the painting "was in remarkable condition considering none of us had any idea of its journey over the last 80 years."

On the back of the painting were several labels pointing to it’s authenticity, with one torn sticker reading “Ramona”.

This led Ms Lewis and other experts to conclude the painting was one of four created by Wyeth for a 1939 edition of Ramona, an iconic American novel by Helen Hunt Jackson.

Only one other painting in the Ramona series has been located, according to the listing description.

Bonhams Skinner has listed the expected price of the painting as between £120,000 and £200,000.

This is based on condition of the painting and what other comparable works have sold for at auctions by the artists and simlar artists.

That's according to a spokesperson for the auction house, who also said the experts will then decide on a high and low estimate for the painting.

But finding treasures such as the painting by Wyeth is "extraordinarily uncommon", according to Ms Leland.

She told local outlet Delaware Online: “Discoveries such as this are certainly rare.

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“Not only because of the limited supply of remarkable works that end up in thrift shops.

"But also because it is difficult for anyone other than an expert in antiques or fine art to be able to recognise the significance of what they have found.”

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