Woman May Have Scored Renoir Painting For $60 In Lucky Flea Market Find

There’s always that hope among flea market shoppers and garage sale pickers — maybe I’ll get a really lucky score today and uncover something priceless no one else has noticed. Most of the time that feeling peters out when walking away with a gently used coffee maker, but one woman reportedly scored a painting by Pierre-Auguste Renoir for a paltry $60 at a flea market.

The painting was part of a box of this and that purchased by the woman, and is scheduled to be auctioned off later this month by a fine arts and antiques auction gallery in Virginia, reports ABC News. “Paysage Bords de Seine” is estimated to go for between $75,000 and $100,000.

It wasn’t even the Renoir the buyer had ogled — it was far less classy fare that caught her fancy.

“What had actually caught her eye in the box wasn’t the valuable Renoir but a plastic cow and a Paul Bunyan doll. She stored the rest of the box’s contents first in a white plastic bag in a shed, later in her car’s trunk and eventually in her kitchen,” the auction company’s fine arts specialist said.

Even after the painting caught her attention, it was really the frame that she wanted and began taking the whole thing apart. Before she could toss the painting her mom suggested she take a closer look, you know, just in case. That “just in case” moment turned out to be worth it, when she spotted the name “Renoir” on the painting and took it in to have it authenticated.

There are records chronicling where the painting came from, but its last known owner was in Paris in 1926. However it ended up at a Virginia flea market is a mystery tailor-made for Antiques Roadshow.

Happy hunting, everyone.

Flea Market Art Buy Turns Up Famous Renoir Painting [ABC News]

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  1. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    It pains me that someone was actually excited to buy a plastic cow and a Paul Bunyan doll.

    • 808 says:

      And that neither the seller nor the buyer apparently read the nameplate mounted on the frame! I can understand not recognizing the name but for gosh sakes, google/Wikipedia it. The linked story mentions the nameplate, and sure enough it is a gilt plate on what looks to be an original gilded frame. (So yes it was a lot more prominent than just a possibly indecipherable signature on the canvas.)

  2. SpeakR40Dead says:

    This goes to show how one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

    I still don’t get why generally art isn’t worth as much as when the artist is dead.

    • TheMansfieldMauler says:

      I still don’t get why generally art isn’t worth as much as when the artist is dead.

      Because as long as he’s alive, he can make another one. Or even a better one.

    • YouDidWhatNow? says:

      On the contrary, I believe Picasso was fairly poor his entire life, and his stuff wasn’t worth much of anything until he was dead. I think that’s pretty common…

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      A lot of times, art becomes more important and valuable later because enough time has passed to where the art community can examine the historical context for the work. It’s like other kinds of history. It’s hard to fully appreciate the historical significance of something until you’re many decades away and are able to look back at the time before the event or work and the effect that event or work had on the world or community.

    • dobgold says:

      and she paid $60 for them!

    • Oh_No84 says:

      It is all based on what someone is willing to pay.
      All it takes is some rich or famous person to spend big bucks on an artist’s painting and then everyone else will spend big bucks on the artists other paintings.

      As TheMansfieldMauler said it helps when the person is dead as they cant make anything new so there are less of their paintings to go around.

  3. Invader Zim says:

    It must look terrible to have been passed on so many times

  4. deathbecomesme says:

    Maybe I should take the painting I bought of the girl all the truckers have on their mud flaps to get looked at. Could be worth $$$$$!!

  5. STXJK says:

    Here’s the painting:

    http://www.potomackcompany.com/custom_asp/schedule.asp

    Almost looks like he was practicing for his larger pieces.

    • goodfellow_puck says:

      Not with that frame and provenance. Turn-of-the-century salons (art shows) in Paris were known for cramming art in floor to rather high ceilings, all in ridiculously showy gold frames. This is a piece he sent to salon. Also, the intent of impressionism was to be the opposite of the established “Old Master” style studios. You could say they were out to troll the art establishment who thought everything should be perfectly posed, roughed out repeatedly, studied, polished and painted for MONTHS sometimes YEARS.

  6. TBGBoodler says:

    I wonder if this was the Shen Valley Flea Market we went to yesterday. I’d be surprised because there wasn’t much more than table after table of old rusty tools, DVDs, NASCAR stuff and socks.

    But the trip was made worth it by the amazingly delicious Mexican food truck lunch we had, so it wasn’t a total loss.

  7. evilpete says:

    Meanwhile a man that sells plastic cows and Paul Bunyan dolls at flea markets commits suicide…

  8. HogwartsProfessor says:

    Cripes. Why can’t this happen to me? Arrghh.

  9. Peggee has pearls and will clutch them when cashiers ask "YOU GOT A WIC CHECK MA'AM?" says:

    “What had actually caught her eye in the box wasn’t the valuable Renoir but a plastic cow and a Paul Bunyan doll. She stored the rest of the box’s contents first in a white plastic bag in a shed, later in her car’s trunk and eventually in her kitchen,” the auction company’s fine arts specialist said.

    Honey Boo Boo: “I got me a cow!”

  10. fleef says:

    So, you guys are actually accepting this fairy tale as gospel truth then?

    • Proselytic says:

      Actually there’s a link somewhere to the art appraiser’s website, so yeah I believe the gist of the story. The exception is that I read somewhere else the same story with her paying $7 dollars for the box of stuff, but whatever the small amount was, nothing compared to the score and finding a valuable piece of art history.

    • goodfellow_puck says:

      You expect it to be a forgery, or you think the entire story is false?