A painting found in a thrift shop a little over a year ago will finally be sold this week – for at least $45,000.
It’s by the prolific Canadian folk artist Maud Lewis, who’s the subject of an independent biopic that took Atlantic Canada by storm this spring.
Lewis lived in poverty for most of her life and sold her paintings from her home near Digby, N.S., for as little as $2 and $3. She died in 1970, but her paintings have since sold for up to $22,000.
Rick Cober Bauman, the executive director of Mennonite Central Committee Ontario, said it’s been an exciting journey since “Portrait of Eddie Barnes and Ed Murphy” was found in a New Hamburg, Ont., thrift shop his organization runs.
“It just so happened that one of our volunteers that day had a hunch that it might be something out of the ordinary,” he said.
After having it appraised – and valued at approximately $16,000 – the painting has been ferried back and forth between New Hamburg, an exhibit at a Nova Scotia art gallery and a Waterloo, Ont., theatre.
After it was back in Ontario, the painting was put up for sale.
“We were always planning to go to some sort of an auction,” he said. And the proceeds will further MCCO’s relief work, including in South Sudan, where the organization is working to help alleviate the effects of a famine.
But Cober Bauman said getting to this point wasn’t all smooth sailing.
He said the auction had to be stopped and restarted, because someone bid $125,000 in bad faith.
But he said a $45,000 bid that has been made would more than satisfy his organization, given that it’s twice what Lewis’s paintings have garnered in the past, and it’s nearly three times the value the work was appraised at.
Cober Bauman said he thinks that may be in part because of the buzz surrounding the Lewis biopic, but that people also may be driven to pay more because they know the money is going to charity.
The bidding ends Friday.