A $3.99 Goodwill Jar Sold for $107,000 at Auction: ‘Gift from the Thrift Gods’

A mug with green and burgundy stripes sold for $3.99 at Goodwill, and Jessica Vincent couldn’t quite put her finger on it. She didn’t pick it up right away, but planned to circle back and buy it — as long as it wasn’t overpriced at $8 or $9.

After he bought it earlier this year from a shop in Hanover County, Vincent was curious about the small “M” mark on the bottom of the vase and suspected it was made in Murano, an Italian island near Venice. for its high-quality glass.

“It was really big and it stood out to me because of its color, but I didn’t know what it was,” Vincent, 43, told The Washington Post on Monday. “I loved it, it was different, and I knew it would be part of my collection.”

But when the lifelong thrift store shopper did some research, Vincent was stunned after realizing what he’d bought: an extremely rare piece from famed Venetian architect Carlo Scarpa.

Purchased for a few bucks, the vase is officially identified as part of Scarpa’s 1940s “Pennelette” series. Sold for $107,100 to an unidentified private art collector in Europe last week.

“It was unbelievable that Jessica went to this Goodwill in Virginia and saw this glass vase sitting in a thrift store undamaged,” Richard Wright, president of Wright Auction House, told The Post. “It’s a gift from the frugal gods.”

As a result of the low-risk purchase at Goodwill, Vincent raised and trained polo horses with his partner and made a life-changing $82,875, Wright said. He said the money from the sale of the vase will go toward renovating the old farmhouse Vincent recently bought.

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“It was really thrilling to think that I had a masterpiece in my hands. For me, it felt like a disappointing thrift shop, so it turned the day around quickly,” she said. “It really helps me a lot. I felt like the universe was conspiring to take me a little further down the road.

While it’s rare to find throwaways at thrift stores selling for six bucks at auction, it does occasionally happen to the luckiest of shoppers. Six years after a New Hampshire woman bought a thrift store painting for $4 while rummaging through the frames, her find was confirmed as a missing NC Wyeth painting from the late 1930s. The oil painting sold for $191,000 at auction in September.

Goodwill spokeswoman Laura Faison said the Scarpa vase was given to Goodwill from an unknown donor over the summer.

“At the time, we didn’t realize it was worth much because there were thousands of things coming in every day,” he said. “We’re just as surprised, shocked and happy as everyone else.”

Vincent was disinterested when he went thrift shopping at a Goodwill store in Ashland in June. She was walking down the aisle with her partner when the store was crowded, but what she thought was a large, colorful bottle struck her.

“I circled back because I wanted to check on that mug — it was still there,” Vincent said. “That’s when I knew it was coming home with me. I said, ‘Even if it’s $8.99, I’m bringing it home. It’s expensive in my mind.

She recalls her partner asking her an honest question at a thrift store: “Why are you buying that bottle?” Vincent was curious about down coding and was excited to learn about it.

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The mark made her think it belonged to Murano, so she posted a photo of it on the Murano glass Facebook group. It didn’t take long for Facebook fans to speculate that Vincent’s purchase at Goodwill was designed by Scarpa, an influential Italian architect who expertly mixed antique and modern materials.

The vase in question was designed by Scarpa in 1942 as part of the rare “Pennellate” series for Venini, the glass workshop that produced Murano glass. The technique of “pennelate” which means “brush stroke” was achieved by adding colored opacity. Take the glass as the vase is blown and drag the material around the perimeter of the piece until the desired level of transparency is achieved. Wright Auction House.

“Carlo Scarpa glass is considered a great glass,” Wright told The Post. “You can have some debate about others, but he was the greatest designer of mid-century Italian glass.”

These recommendations on Facebook led to an email to Vincent Wright, whose auction house has specialized in Italian glass sales for years. When Wright received the email on July 7, the pictures Vincent sent immediately let him know it was real. He quickly replied: can i call you

“I knew it was great when he said that,” Vincent said.

Wright added, “I was like, ‘Oh my God, look at this!’ … She didn’t even tell me she got it from a thrift store, but I could tell she was real, and as a result, I felt very confident that the piece was real.

Facebook has stopped selling a mug that gave a user $10,000. After Wright sent two specialized glass experts from New York to Virginia to examine the vase, suspicions were confirmed: the piece was very authentic.

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Then, last week, the vase was estimated to sell for $30,000 to $50,000. Instead, it went for over $107,000.

“It was definitely the star of the auction,” said Wright, who was the auctioneer. “[Vincent] Very cool person, not everyone is as nice as her. I’ve been doing this for a long time and it’s a very sweet story.

Money and attention have showered Vincent since the story took off across the country, and he thanks years spent thrift shopping for leading to the recovery of a long-lost piece of art.

“It would have been sad if it had been damaged or someone had taken it home and put flowers on it,” he told The Post. “There were so many people that day that anyone could have taken it. That it was more feels like a fairy tale to me.

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