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'Picasso' Bought for $14 by Ohio Man in a Thrift Store Sold for $7,000

The late artist, Pablo Picasso in the 1950's. Tony Vaccaro/Getty Images(COLUMBUS, Ohio) -- Zachary Bodish, 46, of Columbus, Ohio, bought what he thought was a poster reproduction advertising an exhibit of Pablo Picasso for $14.14 in a thrift store. Later, he sold it for $7,000 to a private buyer.

Bodish, 46, said he went to a Volunteers of America store in Clintonville, Ohio on March 1. He was looking for mid-century furniture housewards or "kitschy art" to re-sell. Bodish, who lost his job as a house manager at the Wexner Center for the Arts about two years ago, uses the hobby to supplement his income. He has a part-time job as he looks for more permanent work in the arts.

"I would have liked to have kept it, but I'm somewhat underemployed at the moment," Bodish said. "I really needed the money. If it hadn't been worth very much, only $2,000, I probably would have kept it."

Bodish said a few buyers had made an offer and he had even met with a representative at Christie's auction house in New York City. That representative estimated verbally that Christie's could list the piece in its catalog for $2,500 to $3,000 and it could sell for $4,000, Bodish said.

No one he spoke to gave him an offer as high as the final bidder, who contacted Bodish through the phone book. Because the piece was never officially appraised on paper, the buyer took a leap of faith that it was authentic.

"He felt fairly confident," Bodish said of the buyer, who has given Bodish "visitation rights."

"I think all parties were pretty darn happy about it," Bodish said of the transaction.

Though Bodish never had the print appraised, Picasso experts said the work is most likely a linocut for which Picasso carved a design into linoleum that was then pressed onto paper with ink by a printer.

Todd Weyman, vice president of Swann Auction Galleries in New York City, had estimated that, if authentic, the print's fair market value at auction could be $4,000 to $6,000, based on sales of comparable works during the past 10 to 15 years.

On April 25, Swann Auction Galleries sold a Picasso linocut with three colors for $7,500, which was estimated to bring in about $10,000 to $15,000.

Weyman said an auction for a similar linocut through Christie's in London sold for $4,700 in March 2007. Another was sold in March 2006 through Sotheby's of London for $4,600.

Picasso created the "poster" from the thrift store for an annual pottery show for the city of Vallauris, France in 1958, according to Lisa Florman, an art professor at Ohio State University. Picasso may have made prints for the annual exhibition every year from 1954 for several years.

In addition to the 100 numbered "original" linocuts, which were signed by the artist, it is possible some photolithographic reproductions were made, Florman said.

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