Man's $90 Thrift Store Purchase Could Be Worth Millions At Art Auction

| by Kathryn Schroeder

Houston, Texas, art collector Ray Riley thinks he may have paid $90 at a local thrift shop for a painting that could sell at auction for millions of dollars.

Riley purchased the painting at the Guild Shop after something about it caught his eye. It had been at the thrift store for 104 days before Riley snatched it up.

“I decided to take it out of the frame and saw the letters spelling out p-o-l-k-e,” Riley told ABC News. “I got very nervous and started trembling. I ended up hiding the painting for a couple weeks."

Riley believes the painting is one of German painter Sigmar Polke’s.

“I’m talking to a guy in California who’s going to examine the painting and hopefully authenticate it,” Riley said. “There are a couple of unique characteristics that will be key to proving its authenticity.” 

Riley found that in June a Polke piece sold for $27 million at auction. An appraiser told him that if the painting is authentic, it may sell for $2-7 million at auction.

Guild Shop executive director Gaye Jackson said it is not unusual for valuable paintings to be left at the store, reports ABC 13. Currently, there is a William Gaye York painting worth $18,000 at the store that was simply dropped off by someone.

Sources: ABC News, ABC 13

Photo credit: ABC News