Turns Out, the N.C. Wyeth Painting Didn’t Actually Sell for $191,000 USD

From thrift store masterclass to a massive auction let down, the seller of the work is “crushed.”

Art
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Update:

In September, Tracy Donahue and her husband Tom unassumingly bought a painting from a thrift store in New Hampshire for $4 USD that experts determined as an original work by American painter and illustrator, N.C. Wyeth. After getting the piece authenticated from Bonhams Skinner, the work was sold for a whopping $191,000 USD, filling the two with joy as if winning the lottery.

However, according to a recent report by the New York Times, the bidder failed to pay and has ditched the efforts altogether. “Luckily we didn’t spend a dime beforehand,” Ms. Donahue told the Times, but was “crushed” nonetheless. “I’ve never gotten that close to, you know, hoping for something.”

Bonhams sent the Donahues a counter offer of no less than $132,750 USD, but the family were unsatisfied with the terms and will seek to hold on to the painting as a family heirloom for the time being. “We didn’t have the money before, we don’t have it now,” the family added.


Original Story: Another thrift store, another come up. At least for a woman in New Hampshire who uncovered an unassuming dusty painting, which experts have determined to be an original work by American painter and illustrator, N.C. Wyeth. A master of light and color, Wyeth is best known for his depictions of the American West, particularly in her works, The Last of the Mohicans (1826) and Treasure Island (1883).

The undisclosed buyer purchased the artwork for a mere $4 USD at a Savers store and actually forgot she owned it until recently cleaning up the house. Upon closer inspection, she enlisted the help of a Maine arts conservator, Lauren Lewis, who identified the significance of the piece. “It’s everybody’s dream,” noted Lewis, in regards to finding a masterpiece by humble means.

It’s not entirely clear how the painting ended up at Savers, nor is it evident what the work referred to. However, Lewis believes that Wyeth had created the painting for Helen Hunt Jackson’s 1939 novel, Ramona, which recounts the story of a fictional woman of Scottish and Native American background, who is orphaned after the Mexican-American War.

Bonhams Skinner has estimated that the artwork is expected to fetch roughly $150,000 to 250,000 USD when it hits auction on September 19. “I do hope that it remains in a collection that will be willing to lend it — or even give it to a museum,” Lewis added.

For more on art, check out our must-see booths at Frieze Seoul 2023.

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