scorecardresearch Skip to main content

Rare Wyeth painting bought for $4 at N.H. thrift store sells for $150,000 at auction

The auction house said the N.C. Wyeth work had been procured at “an antique shop” in Manchester. By that, they meant the local Savers secondhand store.

N.C. Wyeth contributed four illustrations for a 1939 edition of Helen Hunt Jackson's novel "Ramona" (originally published in 1884), though only one other has been located.Press Bonhams/Bonhams Skinner

MANCHESTER, N.H. — A rare painting reportedly hung for years on a woman’s bedroom wall and sat in storage in her closet before she realized just how good of a deal she had scored on the piece.

The woman paid $4 for the painting at a Savers thrift store here in August 2017 without recognizing that it was an N.C. Wyeth original, according to the Bonhams Skinner auction house in Marlborough, Mass.

The painting sold for $150,000 on Tuesday. Including the premium, the total price was $191,000, according to the auction house. A spokesperson declined to identify the buyer or disclose the number of bidders. The seller has asked to remain anonymous as well.


The auction listing said the framed oil painting, which measures roughly 28 inches by 19 inches, was purchased “from an antique shop” in Manchester.

With help from a Maine-based conservator who had curated several shows of Wyeth’s works at the Farnsworth Museum, the lucky thrifter learned this year that she had purchased one of Wyeth’s four original 1939 illustrations for a new edition of Helen Hunt Jackson’s novel “Ramona.”

The auction house figured that the book’s publisher, Little, Brown and Company, likely had gifted the work to an editor or to the author’s estate.

The father of painter Andrew Wyeth, N.C. Wyeth, who was born in 1882 and who died in 1945, made thousands of paintings, but he was known primarily for his illustrations that appeared regularly in periodicals and novels during his lifetime.

This story includes material from previous Globe reports.

Steven Porter can be reached at Follow him @reporterporter.