LARCHMONT, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A painting sold for $200 at a Westchester County tag sale, but it turns out it was worth $30,000.
Now, the original owner is fighting to get the artwork back, CBS2’s Christina Fan reported Thursday.
The colorful oil-on-canvas painting is called “Country Fair,” and captures 88-year-old Helen Guistino’s favorite pastime with her late husband.
For 35 years, it hung inside her Thornwood home, which is why the widow said she is so upset to see it now on an Auction Gallery’s website.
“That particular painting was a picture of flea markets, so that meant a lot to us. That had a whole lot of meaning to us, and that’s why I was holding onto it,” Guistino said.
Earlier this month, Guistino held a tag sale at her home and that’s when the painting was accidentally sold. She claims the artwork had a no sale sign on it, but somehow a buyer got his hands on it. The man offered her son $200 and he sold it not knowing the artwork was actually valued at 150 times that.
“It just had a sentimental value to me and I want it back and I do not want to sell it,” Guistino said.
The painting was scheduled to be auctioned off later this month at Clarke’s Auction Gallery in Larchmont. The owner said everything is now in limbo.
“Nov. 24 is the sale. We were supposed to sell it then, but we’ve pulled it,” Ronnan Clarke said.
Fan reached out to the consignor, Sidney Hiller of Briarcliff Manor, to hear his side, but he told her his attorneys are now handling the matter.
John Murtagh, who is representing the widow, is prepared to file a lawsuit. He said Guistino’s son not only did not have the right to sell the painting, but also did not understand the value.
“This is a classic case where cooler heads should prevail. Common sense should prevail. The equitable thing should be done and the painting would be returned,” Murtagh said.
Guistino and her attorney said they hope the issue can be settled amicably, with the buyer getting his $200 back and Guistino her painting.
Experts told CBS2 the artwork is valued so high because it was painted by a well-known American impressionist. The painting was also featured in a 1947 Maxwell House coffee ad.