You truly never know what you may find at a thrift store. It could be an unassuming tourist tee or an original work of art worth thousands, if not millions. Back in May, a New York thrifter found a set of Picasso ceramics that she bought for $8 USD, which she ended up selling for $40,000 USD each via Sotheby’s. A little further before that, a TikToker purchased a $10 USD ashtray at an Illinois Goodwill that ended up being an original piece by Yoshitomo Nara.
The latest entry in the ‘thrift hall of fame’ comes across the pond in the UK, where a couple bought a small vase for roughly $3 USD that has been verified to be an original by the 19th-century Japanese cloisonné artist, Namikawa Yasuyuki. Once a samurai, Yasuyuki stems back to Japan’s Meiji era and was best known for creating deceptively simple cloisonné objects in his Kyoto workshop. Despite being uninterested at first, Karen and her partner Ahmet (both of which have opted to remain anonymous), began to wonder the vase’s origins when checking out the etch marks on the base of the object.
“I always head for the books and he heads off to look for art and vintage stuff. He’s not an expert but he does have great taste and an instinct for the ‘real thing’,” said Karen in a statement. The two ended up taking the vase to Canterbury Auction Galleries, where it was later authenticated. “The exceptionally fine work and naturalistic depiction of cockerels and hens on a black background, with birds in flight overhead, was something of a trademark of his [Yasuyuki's],” said the auction house’s co-director, Cliona Gibson.
The Yasuyuki vase will be hitting an online auction on July 29 and is estimated to fetch in roughly $13,000 USD. The couple plans on using the money for a vacation and will donate the rest to the charity that runs the thrift store they found it from.