2:59 AM PDT, July 8, 2021
It may be time to clean out your grandmother’s closet as one-of-a-kind treasures may be lurking.
A New England homeowner found a rare work of art from the 20th-century painter Pablo Picasso that was sitting in the closet of the home that she inherited, and it sold at auction on Saturday for more than $150,000, according to the Boston Globe.
The framed 16-by-16-inch piece of paper that featured the artist’s signature on the bottom right and dated 1919 had been in the closet of the Maine home for the past 50 years, according to a statement published on LiveActioneers.com by the seller who was not named, Smithsonian Magazine reported.
“This painting was discovered in a house owned by my great aunt which was passed down to her from her uncle in the late 1930s,’’ the statement reads. “The home was later inherited by my father and now to me.”
The Picasso work was one of several paintings kept in the closet for the past five decades, the seller said, “including this example. The seller then goes on to share some of the rich details of her aunt and grandmother’s lives who she described, and said, “each enjoyed collecting objects from their travels.”
“Both my aunt and grandmother studied in Europe in the 1920s. My grandmother at the Sorbonne and aunt in England,” according to the statement.
The seller added: “My aunt collected rare books and art. Each led an interesting life with uncommon travels which were afforded to them through their uncle who owned mills in Maine. They were some of the first women to fly to Asia on a trip to buy silk with their uncle.”
Picasso reportedly created this mixed media work as “a maquette, or preliminary mock-up” for a monumental stage curtain painted in 1919 for the ballet “Le Tricorne,” (The Three-Cornered Hat). Auctioneers believe this work is one-of-a-kind, per the lot’s description, according to the Associated Press.
Picasso’s largest work by the same title is currently on exhibit at the New York Historical Society in New York City, according to the site.
John McInnis Auctioneers told Inside Edition Digital that the seller was planning to have an estate sale but the homeowner learned about his auction house through a recommendation.
“The print was stacked in a closet and the family thought it was a print as well. At first glance, it did look like a print even to a trained eye because the artwork was on paper, known as a lithograph print, and did not look like an original but once we assessed it we learned it was an original work of art,” McInnis said.
“We are in business for over 40 years and are known for making discoveries like these,” he said. “We’ve had a number of paintings sold in the six-figure category after they were proven to be real.”
McInnis recalled a similar situation about nine years ago when he discovered a Martin Johnson Heade painting that sold for over a million. “Great things can be found in the strangest places for no reason at all,” he said.
The Amesbury-based appraiser said the work was auctioned off alongside more than 550 paintings, sculptures, and other items recovered from private estates in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, and Connecticut.
The buyer, who also chose to remain anonymous, will have at least 120 days to authenticate the painting with the Claude Picasso Administration, which is managed by the artist’s son, and sole authenticator, Claude Ruiz-Picasso.