Enid Liess did not know that she had such a special painting when she purchased it for $12.50 in 1964, but she soon learned that it was “The Statesman,” painted by pop artist Roy Lichtenstein in 1951.
She acquired “The Statesman” from a friend, who won it at an auction they both attended. Enid was outbid for the piece by $2.50. Later, the friend gave the painting to Enid and her husband as a wedding gift. Still, Enid split the cost of the painting with the friend.
“I like the earth tone colors. I found it warm. It appealed to me,” Liess said.
Then Time and Life magazines started talking about the pop art movement growing in places like New York City.
“Most people would come in the house and they would look at it and say, ‘Hmmm, it's interesting,’ which told me what they thought about it.”
The painting remained on Enid’s walls, from house to house and city to city, for many years because she liked it.
This summer, the Liesses considered auctioning the painting and they contacted The Lichtenstein Foundation. The Liesses found out that the work was a missing piece from the artist’s collection when the director went to see it for himself.
“He literally danced around my room, danced around the painting,” Liess said.
The Liesses said that they are selling the painting they have held so close for so long because of family.
“I would be very happy if the proceeds from this would help our grandchildren live a better life,” Liess said.
"The Statesman" will be auctioned off Saturday at Quinn’s Auction Gallery in Falls Church, Va. It is estimated to be worth between $40,000 and $60,000.