Treasure unearthed among Goodwill’s hand-me-downs
In a place filled with the cast-offs from estate auctions, moving sales and general house cleanings, a gem occasionally turns up among the olive-green clock radios, the cat-shaped candelabras and XXXL T-shirts from some obscure Midwestern college.
For the Grand Junction Goodwill store, the treasures unknowingly (or perhaps knowingly) surrendered by the roughly 1,500 people who drop off bags and boxes every week have included a Louis Vuitton handbag, a set of bone china and a photo of Mile High Stadium snapped during the last Denver Broncos game ever played there.
But store manager Bill Atwell says nothing has ever come through the store’s doors like the copy of a Salvador Dali painting that showed up last weekend. Goodwill plans to auction off the lithograph to raise money for the nonprofit organization’s programs.
The unknown donor dropped off the lithograph Oct. 30. Atwell said store employees who take donations and sort them into different categories and departments are trained to look for particularly valuable items because store management will pull them out and auction them separately. Sometimes, though, those unique donations slip by unnoticed.
Employees slapped a $10 price tag on the lithograph and put it out on the floor. It was there for a matter of a few minutes before one of the store’s regular customers spotted it and pointed it out to Atwell.
“He could have bought it for $10, and nobody would have known,” Atwell said. “But he’s a good customer, and he believes in what we do.”
The lithograph contains Dali’s signature — or what purports to be the Spanish artist’s signature — and is numbered 168 out of 300. The copy is of Dali’s original painting titled “The Discovery of America by Christopher Columbus.” It took Dali more than a year to complete the painting.
Atwell said he initially was skeptical about the lithograph and acknowledged it could be a forgery. He said Goodwill won’t go through the trouble or expense of having it authenticated.
But a little research found that the Dali lithographs without signatures are selling on the Internet for anywhere from $300 to $500. With signatures, they’re selling for $1,500 to $1,600. One sold for $7,000, Atwell said.
Atwell said he has no idea whether the donor was aware of what he or she parted with.
“There are some people that really know what Goodwill does, and they do generously donate because of that,” he said of those who drop off particularly valuable items. “There are some that may just have not known anything.”