North Carolina artist buys $10 painting at Goodwill, discovers it’s worth $20K

Nadine Kalinauskas
Good News Writer
Good News

An artist's $10 Goodwill purchase turns out to be an important abstract painter's work worth thousands.

After setting up the booth she shared with her husband, Steve, at an art festival, North Carolina artist Beth Feeback, 45, visited a local Goodwill in hopes of finding a blanket or afghan that would help keep them warm at the outdoor show. While there, she spotted two large canvasses in frames. She purchased both for $9.99 apiece, with the plan to paint over them.

"I am always on the prowl for something to paint on or paint over. It helps the environment, and better yet, my pocketbook," Feeback told the Charlotte Observer.

When Feeback returned to the festival with her purchases, artist Leanne Pizio pointed out the labels on the back of the frames. One of the labels identified the artist as Ilya Bolotowsky and indicated that the work had been featured at the Weatherspoon Gallery at UNC-Greensboro. Pizio warned Feeback that she should do some research on the artist before painting over the canvas.

The second painting had been done by Eugene W. Brown, a Raleigh architect, the News & Record reports.

Months later, Feeback finally got around to researching the artist. She quickly discovered that Bolotowsky is considered a leading 20th-century abstract painter. The piece Feeback purchased was a 1966 oil-on-canvas painting called "Vertical Diamond."

Feeback contacted Sotheby's auction house in New York City, sending along supporting documents she received from the Weatherspoon Gallery. Sotheby's accepted the piece, valuing "Vertical Diamond" at about $15,000 to $20,000. It's scheduled for sale on September 21.

"I'm so excited! This is the kind of stuff that happens to other people, not me and my husband!" Feeback told the Charlotte Observer.

Feeback admits that she and her husband need the money — "If we were comfortable and had plenty of money, I might have saved it until the economy was better," she said — and hopes the sale doesn't disappoint:

"I hope that there are at least two people who want it and are willing to fight each other for it," Feeback told the News & Record.