The Quick Report

When a $3.99 Purchase at Goodwill Becomes $100K


A woman found a fascinating vase at Goodwill on her weekly thrifting trip in the Richmond, Virginia, area. She bought it for $3.99. She sensed the vase looked special. It turned out to be a rare work worth over $100,000.

Rare Vase Found at Goodwill and Bought for $3.99

Jessica Vincent makes weekly thrifting trips in the Richmond, Virginia area. On one particular trip to Goodwill, she spotted a vase that she sensed was special.

The vase had seafoam green and maroon brushstrokes painted over the opaque glass. Turning the vase over, Jessica spotted a signature on the bottom. This gave her a hunch it might be worth buying. It was priced at $3.99.

After making the purchase, Jessica ended up doing some research. She ultimately connected with people on a Facebook group that collected Italian glass. They suggested she contact the Wright Auction House.

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Vase Was Created by Famous Italian Architect and Designer

When the experts at the Wright Auction House saw Jessica’s Goodwill glass, they knew it was more than a simple vase painted with green and red streaks.

They recognized the painting style used a technique called “pennellate,” which means brushstroke. This technique is achieved while a piece of glass is being blown by adding in colored opaque glass beads.

As it turned out, the vase was rare. Wright auction house identified the artist as Italian architect and designer Carlo Scarpa (1906-1978). Further, they identified the vase as being part of Scarpa’s Pennellate series for Venini, produced in 1942, CBS News reported. 


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This particular series of works by Scarpa was difficult to make, so the numbers he produced were low – making this vase even rarer.

Scarpa is well known for his glasswork, designing jars, bases, and chandeliers. He was also known for his industrial designs, including industrial furniture. His works are found in several galleries and museums.

Goodwill Vase Fetches $107,100 at Auction

Richard Wright, the president of Wright Auction House told CBS News the “Venini” signature on the bottom alone indicated the vase was expensive.

“It’s a very well-documented piece of glass,” Wright told CBS. “Carlo Scarpa is really one of the preeminent, most famous glass designers of Italian glass in the midcentury. So his designs are valued by the market right at the top.” 

Still, Wright Auction House initially estimated the vase was worth between $30,000 and $50,000. However, Wright said he was “delighted” when the piece went for more than $100,000.

This was not the only vase designed by Scarpa to fetch an extraordinary price at auction. A 1940 vase he created sold for around $309,000 at a Christie’s auction in 2012.

6 More Finds that Were Worth a Fortune

Here are six other items that people found at thrift stores, curio shops, and garage sales that were worth a small fortune.

6. Picasso Poster

Zachary Bodish found an old poster for a Pablo Picasso art exhibit in a Columbus, Ohio, thrift store in 2012. He pursed a set for $14.14. Bodish did some research and discovered he possibly had a signed Picasso print. He did. He later sold the poster for $7,000.

5. Hidden Original 1930 Oscar-Winning Movie Poster

In 2007, Laura Stouffer, an art dealer and collector, found a framed print of a mid-1800s painting at a thrift shop. She later found a poster hidden behind the print. It was an original movie poster from the 1930 Oscar-winning film “All Quiet on the Western Front.” The poster is valued at up to $20,000.

4. An American “Real Deal”

In 2006, Michael Sparks found what he assumed was a reproduction of the Declaration of Independence in a Nashville, Tennessee thrift shop. He purchased the incredibly well-done reproduction for $2.48. He did a little research and found this was no ordinary copy. It was one of 200 copies commissioned by John Quincy Adams in 1820. This copy was only the 36th ever discovered. He sold the parchment for $477,650.

3. Billy the Kid Photo

In 2010, Randy Guijarro discovered some old tintype photographs in some boxes at a Fresno, California, curio shop. He paid $1 each for them. Later, he recognized one of the figures. He did some research and discovered it was Billy the Kid. The other men in the photos were members of his gang. The photo has been authenticated as one of the only two pictures of Billy the Kid in existence. The photograph has been appraised for $5 million.

2. $5 Gag Painting Is a Jackson Pollock Original

In 1992, Teri Horton bought an ugly painting for $5 as a gag gift for a friend. She was about to unload it at a garage sale when an art teacher told her she should check to make sure it wasn’t a Jackson Pollock. It was. Teri’s been offered $9 million but is holding out for $50 million. 

1. Ansel Adams’ “Lost Negatives”

In 2002, Rick Norsigian negotiated to buy some glass plates of old photo negatives at a garage sale in Fresno, California, for $45. He had a hunch they might be the work of Ansel Adams. He was right. These “Lost negatives” were valued at more than $200 million.