When a woman needed some old pictures frames to repurpose, she did what any good bargain hunter would do: She went to a thrift store.
But what this woman found at a Savers in Manchester, New Hampshire, in 2017 would be worth much more than the cheap frame she was initially looking for.
Tucked in the back of the store alongside damaged posters was a rare painting by N.C. Wyeth that was the cover art for the 1939 edition of Helen Hunt Jackson’s novel “Ramona,” The Art Newspaper reported. She bought the painting for a mere $4.
The painting depicts two characters from the 1884 novel — Ramona, “a half Scottish, half Native American orphan living in Southern California after the Mexican-American War,” and Señora Moreno, her “rigid and overbearing foster mother,” according to the auction house Bonhams.
“Not knowing what she had found, she joked about it being a real painting,” a spokeswoman for the auction house stated. “But after not finding anything in a quick internet search, didn’t give it another thought.”
The woman — who chose to remain anonymous — forgot about the painting until earlier this year, when she found it stored in her closet. She then posted a picture of the painting on a Facebook group called “Things Found on Walls,” which connected her with an art curator, leading her to discover how much the painting was actually worth.
The painting is expected to fetch between $150,000 and $250,000 when it goes to auction on Sept. 19.
No one knows for certain how such a valuable painting ended up in a Savers in New Hampshire, but, according to Bonhams, “the work was likely gifted by Little, Brown and Company publishers to an editor or to the estate of the author.”