Goodwill Finds Valuable Painting in Donation Bin

By Richard Jordan
|  Thursday, Jan 10, 2013  |  Updated 3:47 PM EDT
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A rare work of art discovered at a Virginia Goodwill. News4's Richard Jordan explains how one woman figured out the painting was valuable.

A rare work of art discovered at a Virginia Goodwill. News4's Richard Jordan explains how one woman figured out the painting was valuable.

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A sharp-eyed Goodwill worker in Manassas knew that the painting that arrived in the usual bins of clothes and household goods seemed special.

But Maria Rivera couldn't have known how right she was: The painting, which Rivera set aside as she sorted through other donations, turned out to be the work of Giovanni Battista Torriglia, an Italian late 19th-century painter whose portraits hang in galleries around the world.

Goodwill of Greater Washington had the painting appraised and estimated that it's worth about $12,000.

"It's the real deal," Rivera told News4's Richard Jordan.

The painting shows an elderly woman apparently drinking tea from a teacup. Torriglia was known for personality-filled paintings depicting family life in Italy.

It's possible that when the donor dropped off the painting at the Manassas store and donation center, about two months ago, he or she had no idea that it was so valuable.

In fact, Goodwill wouldn't be surprised if they get a call - or several - from people claiming they dropped off the painting by accident and now want it back.

But that claim would be difficult to prove, leaving the painting as the possession of Goodwill - a classic case of finders, keepers.

So Goodwill says it will use the unusual find to help support its core mission of providing education and job training to the community's most vulnerable people. The charity said is holding an online auction of the painting to raise money for its programs.

As of Thursday afternoon, bidding on the painting was up to more than $3,700. There are still six days until bidding ends.

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