$3.99 Vase Found at Goodwill Sold at Auction for $107K

It turned out to be an exceptionally rare piece from the 1940s
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 18, 2023 2:30 AM CST
Woman Buys $3.99 Vase at Goodwill, Sells It for $107K
A Goodwill store sign is shown in Berkeley, Calif., Tuesday, March 9, 2021.   (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

Over her decades of thrift-shopping (not to mention her time spent watching Antiques Roadshow), Jessica Vincent has developed an eye for spotting hidden treasures at secondhand stores. But even she didn't realize just what she'd stumbled upon one day in June at a Goodwill store in Hanover County, Virginia. She tells the New York Times she thought the iridescent glass bottle-shaped vase with red and green swirls might be worth $1,000 to $2,000 after she found an "M" on the bottom that she thought might stand for Murano, the island off Venice known as an important center of Italian glass-making. She purchased the vase for $3.99—and on Wednesday, it sold at auction for $107,100.

Vincent started researching glass identification, and members of one Facebook group she joined suggested renowned Italian architect Carlo Scarpa may have designed the vase. That's when she got in touch with Wright Auction House, which says in its release that the vase was determined to be part of Scarpa's "Pennellate" series from the 1940s, pieces of which "are exceptionally rare to see," in part because of how difficult they were to make. Pennellate means "brushstroke," and, as the auction house explains, the effect "was achieved by adding colored opaque glass to the vase as it was being blown, and dragging the material around the circumference of the piece until the level of desired transparency was achieved."

The vase Vincent found was also "perfectly intact," Artnet News reports, with not even a tiny chip, and there's only one other Pennellate vase using the same combination of colors known to exist. The vase Vincent found was sold to a private art collector in Europe who has not been identified. It's not, however, the most expensive Scarpa vase ever to sell at auction: That would be a Laccati Neri e Rossi from 1940 that sold for $309,000 in 2012. Both vases were designed by Scarpa for Italian art glass maker Venini, which is in fact located on Murano. (More Goodwill stories.)

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