In a once in a lifetime stroke of luck, a shopper found and purchased a pencil drawing by Egon Schiele in a Habitat for Humanity thrift store in Queens, New York. The drawing is valued between $100,000 and $200,000, the Art Newspaper reported.
The buyer, who preferred to remain anonymous, is a part-time art handler and collector. When he found the drawing, he recognized it immediately as Schiele piece. To verify the drawing, he contacted Jane Kallir, a world-renowned expert on Egon Schiele and author of the first complete catalog of Schiele’s works. Kallir, who is also the director of Galerie St. Etienne in New York, said the buyer approached her a year ago with photos of the drawing but they were too blurry for her to make a judgment. Such inquiries, Kallir said, are a matter of routine. “We get hundreds of photographs a year, and most of them are fakes or copies or just misidentified as Schiele’s work. We asked for better photos, and he took a year to get back to us,” she said.
When Kallir finally saw the drawing in person, she had little doubt left in her mind that the drawing is a Schiele original. “In over 30 years of authenticating Schiele’s work, I have only once before encountered a drawing with such an unlikely provenance,” Kallir said in a press statement.
According to Kallir, the work belongs to a series of 20 pencil drawing of a reclining nude girl that Schiele made in 1918, the year he died of Spanish flu. Some of the other drawings in the series are now in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Leopold Museum in Vienna, Austria, Kallir added.
The previously unknown drawing is now part of the exhibition The Art Dealer as Scholar at Galerie St. Etienne. If it sells, the buyer said he plans to donate part of the proceeds to Habitat for Humanity, where he found the treasure.