Yard sale drawing bought for $30 is a 16th century Dürer worth $10 million

Originally published at: Yard sale drawing bought for $30 is a 16th century Dürer worth $10 million | Boing Boing


I recognize that signature. Dürer is a major influence on my own drawing style. I would have shit myself if I discovered that piece at any price.


I am always on the look out for original art or prints at estate sales or garage sales. Or anything grossly undervalued.


This is a fine example of the difference between art and the Art Market. The drawing was worth $30 to the owner; but the speculators, money launderers and middle men in the Art Market see another chance to hype up a piece of paper to $10,000,000. Sure, it is old, and it is a Dürer; but it isn’t like it is a good Dürer. Its value seems, to me, to lie in ownership rather than the quality of the piece.

If anyone is interested, I’m offering the following NNFT* for $10,000. #madapefineart

*Not None Fungible Token

Like human life, or the labour of nurses?


Now, the real question is how that artwork endet up on a yard sale in the US. My guess is that it was stolen from Germany by a GI at the end of WW2, like so many other art treasures.
It should be returned to Germany.


Sweet find!

Love that Art.


I picked up a painting by"An Important Canadian Artist" (yes, they exist) for under $200 from a hole-in-the-wall antique store. Not worth more than about $1,000, because it wasn’t his usual Pollock-esque style, but it’s nice to know that I am a decent judge of art. Bargains are out there if you know what to look for.



Ah, the good two-wrongs-make-a-right defense.


I take solace in the knowledge that our house guests would take some sort of inspiration from the Dürer bunny rabbit poster hanging in our downstairs 1/2 bath.

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May I ask in what country you live?

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< obligatory NFT joke >



Do we even know that this work was taken from Germany by an Allied soldier at the end of the War?

It’s a 16th-Century work, and a lot of people immigrated to America from Germany in the 19th and early 20th Centuries. Let’s not jump to conclusions about war crimes if we can avoid it.


From the CNN article…

Schorer described how he then began a three-year journey to verify the artwork, which involved taking 17 international flights around the world to consult experts.

Who pays for that? Who pays for that if it’s found not to be real?

Also, am I the only one who would return to the yard sale or try to find the owner who sold the art, and give them some serious cash? I mean 17 international flights to authenticate, it couldn’t be that hard to find the poor guy that sold it for 30 bucks.


Authentication takes a lot more than just finding the person who owned it last. You have to either establish the chain of ownership going back to an owner who can reliably be considered to have owned the real thing or use science to verify that the materials and brush strokes are consistent with other known works by the artist beyond a reasonable doubt


He does. Or the gallery he works for.

That’s the risk the gallery is taking. It’s why they have an expert consultant on retainer who can at least give them an initial assessment on whether it is worth pursuing.


Some context from an expert in antiquities trafficking. Note that these are her thoughts based on a different article from the NYT and she doesn’t have any inside info.


The owners were the daughters of Jean-Paul Carlhian, it shouldn’t be difficult to track them down. According to this article (note that the “worth” goes up to $50m!), the sellers (and buyer) assumed the work was a modern reproduction.

There are many Dürer drawings of a very similar subject – Virgin and Child on grass bank (bench).

I will be keeping my wallet in my pocket.

Eric Hebborn’s book The Art Forger’s Handbook is an interesting read – he recommends drawings as profitable forgery – he gives tips on how to get paper and ink that will be of correct date – of course you will also need to be able to draw. Drawings also have the benefit of not needing some of the tricky ageing, craquelure for example. You will also need to fake provenance.


On the contrary, we know it wasn’t. At least if we want to believe the official story, which is something that isn’t always a good idea in the world of the international art market.

No matter who created it, the artwork had traveled from Germany to a noble family in Italy to the Louvre Museum and private collectors in France before it wound up in Massachusetts, Mr. Metzger said.

Jean-Paul Carlhian, an architect, took the piece to Massachusetts sometime after his family acquired it in 1912, Dr. Metzger said. At some point in the last century, the family decided the drawing was not a real Dürer, Mr. Schorer said. That is most likely how it ended up at the Carlhian family’s estate sale that the unidentified buyer of the drawing attended in 2016.