A $4 picture is now said to be worth up to $250,000.
Finding huge frames at reasonable prices might be easy in thrift stores.
But one bargain shopper found much more after visiting a Savers store in Manchester, New Hampshire, in 2017.
The painting was originally an oil panel illustration by Newell Convers Wyeth, the father of the more renowned Andrew Wyeth, according to Bonhams auction house.
The artwork served as one of Ramona by Helen Hunt Jackson’s four cover pictures for a 1939 edition of the book.
The titular character of the book, a half-Scottish, half-Native American orphan living in Southern California during the Mexican-American War, is portrayed in the dramatic scene along with her strict and domineering foster mother, Seora Moreno. The book was first publish in 1884.
Wyeth inscribed his signature in pen on a label attached to the back of the frame and in the top left corner of the work.
The thrift store buyer merely hung it up in their bedroom for a number of years before putting it in a closet because they were unable to uncover any early information online.
After pulling the artwork out of its frame while cleaning, the consignor put some pictures of it online in a Facebook group called Things Found on Walls in May of this year.
The Brandywine River Museum of Art in Pennsylvania, which features the creations of various members of the Wyeth family as well as conservator Lauren Lewis, was swiftly recommended to the consignor.
Lewis travelled three hours to Portsmouth to meet the painting’s owner and see the piece in person.
Lewis’s level of elation “was the first time the consignor realized it was actually legitimate and valuable,” according to Bonhams.
The American artist, who worked for corporations like Scribner’s and publications like the Saturday Evening Post, Harper’s Monthly, and Ladies’ Home Journal, produced more than 3,000 paintings and illustrated 112 books over his career.
The painting is thought to have been given to an editor or the author’s estate by the publishers Little, Brown and Company. The painting’s estimate from the auction house is between $150,000 and $250,000. On September 19, it will be put up for auction in Marlborough, Massachusetts.