Top 10: Discovered treasures of 2012
This year, Wikicollecting has enjoyed reporting on some fantastic thrift store finds, flea market bargains, and attic discoveries of lost wonders and rarities that have gone on to great things at auction. Here are some of our favourites:### 10) Portrait of Dickens’ wife – £8,750
9) Salvador Dali etching - $21,005
Found at a Tacoma Goodwill store, this signed artwork entitled ‘Reflections’ was donated anonymously. It was discovered by Goodwill to be a rare signed piece by none other than Salvador Dali, part of his ‘Cycle of Life Suite’, and sold by the charity for $21,005.
8) Tiffany & Co centrepiece - $22,500
Purchased at a Philadelphia flea market for $200, this abstract sculptural composition turned out to be a unique piece commissioned by Tiffany & Co from one of the world’s foremost living silversmiths, Ubaldo Vitali, from an astronomical design by architect Charles O. Perry. It sold for $22,500 at Freeman’s on November 13.
7) Ilya Bolotowsky abstract - $34,375
A North Carolina woman spent $9.99 at a thrift store for a painted canvas, intending to up-cycle and paint over it with her own particular art speciality: psychedelic portraits of cats in bright acrylic.
A friend persuaded her to investigate the piece further, and she discovered it was a cubist masterpiece called Vertical Diamond by abstract artist Ilya Bolotowsky. It sold for $34,375 at Sotheby’s in September.
6) Flea market Renoir – $100,000
A painting, bought for $7 at flea market as part of a box of miscellaneous items which also contained a plastic cow and a Paul Bunyan lumberjack doll, turned out to be an original painting by master Pierre-Auguste Renoir.
It was set to sell for somewhere in the region of $100,000 in September. The lost painting, entitled ‘Paysage Bords de Seine’ then had its history traced and was revealed to have been stolen from a museum in 1951, so the auction was postponed while the theft was investigated.
5) 1652 New England sixpence - $431,250
A rare New England sixpence dating from 1652, one of just eight of its kind known to exist, was discovered in an East Hampton potato field with a metal detector. It was sold by Stack’s Bower’s Galleries in November for $431,250, over four times its estimate.
4) Mobster jewellery stash – $500,000
A hidden hoard of jewellery, gold, diamonds, guns, and other valuable items belonging to Chicago mobster and hit man Frank Calabrese Sr was discovered during an FBI raid on his house. The collection was valued at $500,000, and was auctioned in July in over 250 lots, the money raised to go towards Calabrese’s $24 million government fine. Calabrese is also serving life imprisonment.
3) Berwick movie posters - $503,000
An astonishing trove of thirty three rare movie posters was discovered in Berwick, Pennsylvania. The stash included some of the most sought after Holy Grail pieces for movie poster collectors, all stuck together with wallpaper glue.
Grey Smith of Heritage Auctions and his team painstakingly steamed them apart, and as they peeled away each layer, an even rarer poster would be revealed beneath.
The collection auctioned at Heritage in March, raising a total of $503,000. Highlights included a 1931 Dracula poster, sold for $143,400, and a 1931 Cimarron poster, for $101,575.
2) Black Swamp find – $3 million
A foray into a grandfather’s attic in Defiance, Ohio revealed an unprecedented turn-of-the-century collection of almost 700 antique baseball cards from the 1910 E98 ‘set of 30’, including some of the great rarities featuring the greatest baseball legends from this era.
Notable sales of individual cards from the discovery include the finest example known of a 1910 Honus Wagner card, sold for $239,000, and a mint 1910 Ty Cobb card from the same set, sold for $38,837. In addition a near-complete set with 27 of the 30 players, awarded position #1 on the PSA Set Registry, sold for $286,800.
1) Billy Wright’s Comic Book collection - $3.5 million
This February saw the last part of the Billy Wright comic book collection sold, with a net result of almost $3.5 million. Wright had purchased the books as a child, and kept them in immaculate condition until his death. They were found by his great-nephew, hidden in the basement.
The collection included 44 of the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide’s top 100 most valuable issues, an incredible discovery. Highlights included Detective Comics #27, the first appearance of Batman, sold for $522,812, and Superman’s debut in Action Comics #1, sold for $298,750.
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