Va.woman pays $7 for box containing odds and ends, including original painting by Pierre-Auguste Renoir

10:39 PM, Sep 12, 2012   |    comments
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ALEXANDRIA, Va. (WUSA) -- The September 29th auction at the Potomack Company in Alexandria will feature a wide variety of items: ancient Chinese artifacts, 19th century American portraits, and one long-lost jewel of a painting by one of the masters of the form, Pierre-Auguste Renoir.

The five-inch by nine-inch landscape has apparently changed hands four times since it was painted in 1879.  It's believed that Renoir gave it to a woman who modeled for him; she sold it to an art dealer in France; in 1926, the art dealer sold it to an American businessman whose wife was from Baltimore; and then, about a year ago, it was sold as part of a lot of unremarkable items at a flea market in West Virginia.

The lucky buyer, whom 9 News spoke with on the phone, does not want to be identified.

She said she's in her 40s, lives in Virginia, and paid seven dollars for the Renoir and a Paul Bunyan doll that were included in the box of items that she bought on a whim.

"I thought the Paul Bunyan doll might have been worth something but I was wrong," the woman said.

The woman went on to say that even though the painting has a Renoir label on the front of the gilded frame, she had no idea that it was an actual Renoir until very recently when it was authenticated by experts. 

The painting is now expected to bring about $100,000, perhaps even more, when it goes to auction, and for that reason, Renoir is now her favorite artist and "Landscape Along the Seine" her favorite of Renoir's many remarkable works.

"I would say this is the best thing that ever happened to me," the woman said.

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