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Rare Italian painting unearthed at Virginia Goodwill store

January 15, 2013|By Deborah Vankin
  • A Giovanni Battista Torriglia painting was discovered in a Virginia Goodwill store.
A Giovanni Battista Torriglia painting was discovered in a Virginia Goodwill… (Goodwillstores.com )

Goodwill stores nationwide are seeing an odd trend of late: accidental rare art donations.

The latest valuable art piece found at Goodwill, amid the standard piles of used boots and dishware, is an original, signed painting by 19th-century Italian artist Giovanni Battista Torriglia.

The painting was discovered by a Goodwill employee, Maria Rivera, in Virginia and could be auctioned off for as much as $20,000 on Goodwill’s website, according to Yahoo news.

Rivera told a local NBC affiliate that she suspected the painting might be worth something because it reminded her of a similar artwork she’d seen in a museum.

“I didn’t know how much at the time, but I knew we had some money here,” she said.

The oil painting -- of a silver-haired woman sipping a cup of tea -- is signed "G.B. Torriglia" in the upper right-hand corner. It’s in a gold-colored wood frame and is 6.5 inches wide by 9.25 inches high, unframed. It was valued by an appraiser at between $12,000 and $18,000.

Prior to the Torriglia discovery, a sketch by surrealist Salvador Dali was found at a Goodwill donation center in Seattle this past November. Several months before that, a 1,000-year-old piece of Native American pottery was unearthed at a New York Goodwill store.

The Torriglia painting is expected to be sold by Wednesday. A letter of authentication will be provided to the buyer. Proceeds will go toward the Goodwill job-training program. 

All of which gives new meaning to that old saying: “One person’s trash is another person’s treasure.”

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Twitter.com/@debvankin

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