13 Remarkable Artworks That Were Found By Accident

Excavating your home or local thrift store could lead to millions!

1. Found during a board game: Martin Johnson Heade

This 19th-century American painting sold for $1.25 million after its owner recognized it during a game of Masterpiece. The painting, entitled “Magnolias on Gold Velvet Cloth,” was purchased in a thrift store and used to cover a hole in the owner’s wall. After observing a similar image in the board game, the owner had the painting authenticated. It was sold to the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston.

2. Found in a Wisconsin living room: Van Gogh

This Van Gogh still life was spotted by an art prospector as he appraised antique furniture in a suburban Milwaukee home. The painting, which had been in family possession for 30 years, was expected to fetch up to $800,000 at auction. Brb, going home to double check all of my wall art.

3. Found in rubble by a peasant: the Venus de Milo

The Venus de Milo was originally discovered by Greek peasant on the island of Milo in 1820. The French heard, snatched up the famed statue, and placed it in the Louvre.

4. Found at UC Berkeley, then promptly undersold: Sargent Johnson

These carved redwood panels by prominent African American artist Sargent Johnson were lost for 25 years. Rediscovered at Berkeley, the panels were then mistakenly sold for $150 + tax, despite their million-dollar value. Oops!

5. Found in a garage sale: Andy Warhol

Snagged for $5, worth over $2 million. This Andy Warhol sketch was purchased by a British art collector at a Las Vegas garage sale in 2010. The drawing, which was created when Warhol was just 10 years old, is believed to depict 1930s singer Rudy Vallee.

6. Found in a basement: Picasso

Picasso’s “Seated Woman with Red Hat,” considered lost for 50 years, was found in the basement of an Indiana museum. Thought to be inspired by Picasso but created by another artist, the museum had placed the painting in storage and forgotten about it until 2012. Guess it wasn’t lost after all!

7. Found in a thrift store: another Picasso

Purchased for $14.14, estimated to be worth $6,000 at auction. This signed Picasso print was purchased in an Ohio thrift store after it piqued the buyer’s interest with its stark contrast to other posters for sale. The buyer discovered the work’s potential value by Googling the image after his purchase.

8. Found in a thrift store: Jackson Pollock?

Purchased for $5 as a secondhand gag gift, forensically linked to Jackson Pollock, rejected by the art elite, and made into a documentary. The painting’s owner won’t settle for anything under $50 million.

9. Found in a thrift store: Ilya Bolotowsky

Oh, this is just my $20,000-in-value Russian abstract painting from Goodwill.
This Ilya Bolotowsky color block painting, “Vertical Diamond,” was snagged for $10 by an aspiring painter who intended to paint over the canvas. Prompted by a friend’s suggestion, the buyer searched for the painting’s artist online and found that he was a notable abstract painter.

10. Found in a couch: Venetian painting

Buy used couch for $215, find unknown Venetian painting inserted inside, auction for $27,630. Profit: $27,415.
Painted by an unidentified artist after Carlo Saraceni, this work was discovered in a secondhand sofa bed purchased from a Berlin flea market. The painting was auctioned in Hamburg shortly thereafter, netting its student finder a sizable sum.

11. Found in walls: Mayan murals

Robert Slabonski / Via news.nationalgeographic.com

Motivation to renovate your kitchen: these centuries-old Mayan paintings were discovered in the walls of a Guatemalan home. The murals, which depict figures in procession, were revealed during a refurbishing of the family’s home in the village of Chajul.

12. Found in walls: a Dada mural

Guys? I think l unearthed a forgotten mural by renowned Dada artist Marcel Janco!
The mural was uncovered during a restoration of the artist’s studio in Israel. It is affirmed that the artist covered the mural himself, deeming it unworthy of museum display. More paintings are expected to be found as the restoration continues.

13. Found by accident on the internet: Thomas Kinkade’s “Disney Dreams Collection”

This painting belongs in the canon.

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