FOUND > Unwanted Painting Fetches $650,000

Kept in a Basement and Nearly Tossed in a Dumpster

A forgotten and unwanted painting fetches $650,000 at auction.

April 27, 2017
By James Massey, What Sells Best News

VESTAL, NEW YORK (VIDEO) – FOX Business reports, a couple downsizing for a move, found a forgotten and unwanted painting in their basement. They couldn't decide if they should toss it, or donate it. Shortly thereafter... the painting fetched $650,000 at auction.

The upstate New York couple, Don and Phyllis Camp, were moving to Colorado to be near their grandchildren. They set up a dumpster and were tossing out decades worth of stuff, to lighten their load for the move. Then they found the forgotten oil painting under a bed sheet in the basement.

Nobody Wanted It

The painting, inherited from Don's mother in 1990, sat in the basement for more than 20 years, because it just didn't appeal to the couple. They pondered whether they should donate it to the Salvation Army, or perhaps just toss it in the dumpster.

Last minute, Don decided to run by a local auctioneer to see if it might be worth something. The auctioneer, David Mapes of Mapes Auctioneers didn't recognize the artist immediately. However he was impressed by the Southwest painting of the woman in a shawl. Stating in the FOX Business article; “It just knocked my socks off.”

One Sold for $400,000... Another for 50¢ at Yard Sale

Mapes research revealed the painting, entitled “Ruth,” was by William Victor Higgins (1884-1949). Higgins, became an important name in the 1920s as a member of the Taos Society of Artists, a New Mexico artist colony.

Interesting side note, related to the video mentioned above. March of 2015 we wrote about a $10,000 painting bought for 50¢ at a yard sale. We later learned that painting was also linked to Higgins, who had collaborated on it with other artists.

While researching, Mapes also discovered another Higgins painting had fetched $400,000 at Sotheby's. Our research indicates he may have found the painting entitled; "Four Shawled Women" which had fetched $411,200 at a New York sale in 2004.

Bidding-War Erupts

Mapes having a price in mind. However when he auctioned the Camp's painting, a bidding war broke out Which stroke the price to $650,000 which was paid by an Arizona collector.

Featured on TV

The painting story was highlighted on Fox Business Network’s “Strange Inheritance.” It was featured in Season 3, in Episode 24, named Desert Treasure.


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