Entries in Goodwill (2)


Painting Bought for $9.99 at Goodwill Valued at $15K

Adam Gault/Thinkstock(OAK RIDGE, N.C.) -- When Beth Feeback bought two large paintings at $9.99 each from a Goodwill store in North Carolina, the artist intended to paint over them. It’s a good thing she didn’t.

One of the paintings turned out to be the work “Vertical Diamond” by notable 20th century artist Ilya Bolotowsky, and Sotheby’s, the world-famous auction house, has valued it at between $15,000 and $20,000.

Sotheby’s will auction the painting Sept. 21, Feeback said Monday.

Feeback, 45, described the series of events that led her to the painting. She and her husband had gone to display their own artwork April 28 at an art fair in Oak Ridge, N.C. The day was chilly and Feeback hadn’t dressed for the weather. She remembered having passed a Goodwill store on the way to the fair, so she asked her husband, Steve, to watch their things so she could go to the store to find a blanket or afghan to cover up.

She quickly found a throw and a pair of gloves. Then she spotted two large paintings done in red, white and blue.

“I thought they would be awesome canvases. They were $9.99 a piece and I just thought they would be great to just draw on them and paint over them because I didn’t like them as paintings. They were really ‘70s kind of looking, but not ‘70s in that fun, kitschy way, ‘70s in a different way that I don’t really enjoy, so I was like, ‘I’m going to paint big cat heads or whatever,’” Feeback, who specializes in pet portraits, said. “I was going to paint on them and so I bought them.”

She showed them to a friend at the art fair, and her friend spotted labels on the backs of the canvases that read: “Weatherspoon Art Gallery. University of North Carolina -- Greensboro.” Her friend told her to find out more about the paintings before she painted them over.

Feeback took the canvases home and they languished in her art studio until mid-June. She nearly painted over them a few times.

“But I decided, you know, I’ll check, I’ll Google these guys. The first one I Google was Bolotowsky. And I Google it and the first thing I saw was the Wikipedia page and I was like, ‘Holy crap. I better get those up off the floor over there,’” she recalled. “And then it just went crazy. When I saw what it was I thought, ‘This painting has got to be worth something, but what do I do now? I don’t know anything about selling a valuable painting.’  We made $200 at the art show that day.”

Bolotowsky was an abstract painter who fled his native Russia and settled in Brooklyn in 1923.  He died in 1981.

On the advice of friends, she contacted Sotheby’s in New York, sending pictures of the painting and the labels on the front and back. They got back to her with the news, and asked her to send them the painting.

She and her husband shipped the Bolotowsky canvas via UPS, insuring it for $20,000, she said.

Feeback said she came close to never having even seen the paintings. The previous owners were a married couple who had bought the paintings at a textile company’s liquidation sale and they planned to put them in the basement of their home, but the canvases were simply too large.

They tried to sell them at a church yard sale April 28, but when no one expressed interest, they took them to the Goodwill. Feeback showed up at that store that same afternoon and made her lucky find.

Feeback said she has been in touch with the woman who used to own the painting.

“She was so kind and so, you know, generous in spirit about the whole thing because she wished us well and she said … ‘It’s one of those things and it must have been meant to be,’ and such dear people and so I thank them a lot, you know, for being so kind about it,” she said.

The couple has taken Feeback up on her offer to paint them a picture of their late cat, Buttons.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Rare Robert E. Lee Photo Found at Goodwill Is Auctioned

Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee, Inc. and Richard Schaffer(HARPERS FERRY, W.Va.) -- Some go to Goodwill for jeans, furniture, maybe even some good DVDs if they’re lucky. But when Richard Schaffer of Harpers Ferry, W.V., perused Goodwill he stumbled across a small photograph of Robert E. Lee that looked old enough to be real.

He eventually paid $23,000 for it.

“It looked like s*** honestly and that’s what appealed to me,” said Schaffer.

That was enough to make Schaffer, 45, take a second look. When the photograph was first posted on Goodwill’s online site,, it was only $4.

But then something happened. Suzanne Kay-Pittman, spokeswoman for Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee, said that the price started shooting up.

“In 18 hours, it was above $6,700,” Kay-Pittman said.

Goodwill took the picture offline and to Larry Hicklen, who runs several Civil War antique shops near Stone River battlefield. He dated it circa 1865-1870. He described it as a tin type photograph, probably not an original, but maybe a copy of original. He said that the pose had not been seen before but noted that the image was very similar to the famous “floppy tie” Civil War portrait. This photograph, however, had a slightly different facial expression and faces a different direction.

Good enough for Goodwill, the company reposted the picture on Aug. 31. Several days, 131 bids, and over 40,000 page views later, Schaffer finally acquired the rare piece.

Schaffer, a veteran antique collector, has still not laid eyes on the actual photograph and will not until Kay-Pittman hand-delivers it to him Monday at his Harpers Ferry restaurant, Secret Six Tavern. Then he will have it examined by his own private firm in Washington, D.C.

There are risks. The picture could end up being an absolute fake and be worth less than $1,000. Schaffer says that $23,000 isn’t all that much in the antique world and is just part of the gamble.

“You may win or you may lose,” said Schaffer. “It’s like the stock market.”

But if he wins, he would win big. He estimates that if the picture really is as rare as he believes, it could easily be worth six figures.

And if he loses, it will have just been an auction casualty. He says that Goodwill seems willing to work with him if the picture turns out to be a fake. Even if his money is not returned, Schaffer takes comfort in knowing that his money is going to a good place.

“It’s a very important charitable organization, truly one of the finest nonprofits in the U.S.,” said Schaffer.

Kay-Pittman notes that, through the sale of this one item, Goodwill will be able to train 69 people to go out and get jobs.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio