The Sideshow

Rare painting discovered in Goodwill donation bin worth up to $18K

Eric Pfeiffer
The Sideshow

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This Giovanni Batista Torriglia painting was discovered in a Virginia Goodwill store (Goodwillstores.com)

A rare painting that was dropped off at a Goodwill store in Virginia may soon sell for nearly $20,000—with the proceeds going to a good cause.

The painting, an original work by 19th-century artist Giovanni Batista Torriglia, is currently up for auction on Goodwill’s website, with the sale expected to be completed on Wednesday.

Goodwill employee Maria Rivera found the painting in a donation bin in November, but she set the item aside on a hunch that it might be of value. “I didn’t know how much at the time, but I knew we had some money here,” Rivera told a local NBC affiliate last week.

In fact, Rivera said she based her opinion of the painting on a memory of having recently seen a similar work at a museum.

The painting, which depicts an elderly woman drinking a cup of tea, was then taken to an appraiser, who said it's worth between $12,000 and $18,000.

Of course, Goodwill officials say they won’t be surprised if someone, or even multiple people, come forward claiming to be the accidental donor of the Torriglia painting. However, because there was no proof of ownership left with the painting at the time, Goodwill officials say it’s unlikely an individual could take ownership.

Goodwill adds that it will use the proceeds for its job-training program.

The unusual discovery is actually part of a larger trend of people making accidental art donations to Goodwill in recent months.

In November, a Salvador Dali sketch was found at a Seattle Goodwill donation center. As with the Torriglia, the Dali work was put up for auction on the store’s website. And a few months before that, a piece of pottery found at a New York Goodwill store turned out to be a 1,000-year-old artifact from a Native American burial site in Oklahoma.

The strange donations extend beyond the world of art.

Also in November, a Texas man accidentally gave away he and his wife’s life savings, which were stuffed inside a pair of donated shoes. However, the store found the cash and set it aside, allowing the family to retrieve the money a few days later.

Other donations have proven to be more mysterious. For example, in May a St. Louis Goodwill donation center discovered about $14,000 in cash in a box of Christmas tree decorations.

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