Jessica Vincent decided to check out a Goodwill thrift store in Hanover, Virginia, in June. She walked through lamps, VCRs, and glassware that are commonly found at big-box stores.
It wasn’t until later on that something caught her eye – an iridescent glass vase.
After making her rounds in the store, she went back to the vase, which was bottle-shaped and had red and green swirls. Picking it up, she noticed a small “M” mark on the bottom and believed it stood for Murano, an island that’s known as the historical home of Italian glassware.
She thought it might be worth something and brought it home. In a later interview, she said she thought it might be worth $1,000 or $2,000, but that she had no idea how valuable it was until she went and did more research.
At the store, the vase had no price. She told herself that she would pay up to $8.99 and no more. When the item was rung up by the cashier, it was $3.99.
After returning home from the thrift store, she joined a few glass identification Facebook groups to hopefully learn more about the item. Some members told her the Goodwill vase resembled one created by renowned Italian architect Carlo Scarpa. They ended up referring her to Wright Auction House.
She immediately sent pictures of the item to the president of the auction house, Richard Wright, and asked if he could call her with more information.
The second Wright saw the pictures, he had a good feeling – and he was right.
This Wednesday, the vase sold for more than $107,000 in an auction; the buyer was an anonymous private art collector based in Europe. Approximately $83,000 went to Vincent and $23,000 went to the auction house.
According to Mr. Wright, he had called in specialists, who evaluated the vase to see whether or not it was part of Mr. Scarpa’s “Pennellate” series that he had made back in the 1940s.
He was also super impressed with the vase, which was in pristine condition. If it had even a small chip, the piece would have likely sold for less than $10,000. He compared the likelihood of finding such an item at a thrift store to “winning a lottery ticket.”
It’s unknown how the vase ended up at the thrift store. A spokesperson for Goodwill of Central and Coastal Virginia said “It would be nearly impossible to pinpoint the exact donor [for the vase]”, as they receive more than two million donated items every year.
While some people may have wanted to keep the vase due to its monetary value, Vincent knew she didn’t want to. As soon as she learned how valuable was, she started to think of situations where it could be knocked over, stolen, or ruined in a natural disaster.
Vincent said she’s been frequenting thrift stores ever since she was a young girl – something that she used to do with her mother and that she had developed an eye for hidden gems over the years. She also revealed she’s a fan of the Antiques Roadshow, which she uses to research the items she buys.
In the past, she had bought things for a few dollars, such as lithographs and woodcarvings, which ended up being worth several thousand dollars.