Home News Vase Purchased for $3.99 at Goodwill Sells for Over $100,000

Vase Purchased for $3.99 at Goodwill Sells for Over $100,000


Jessica Vincent browsed a busy Goodwill thrift store in Hanover County, Virginia in June, passing VCRs, lamps and glassware commonly sold at big-box retailers – but nothing particularly caught her attention until she saw an iridescent glass vase.

After making her rounds through the store, she returned to a bottle-shaped vase decorated with red and green swirls, noting a small “M” at its base – perhaps symbolizing Murano, an island off Venice that is known for producing Italian glassware.

goodwill vase auction
goodwill vase auction

She suspected it may have some value.

“Initially I estimated it might be around $1,000 or $2,000 piece,” she stated, but had no idea as to its true worth until conducting further research.

Ms. Vincent, 43, estimated she would pay $8.99 and no more for the vase when the cashier rang up her total; when the bill came it was only $3.99.

After visiting Goodwill thrift store in June, she joined Facebook groups dedicated to glass identification in order to learn more about the vase she found there. Some members informed her it resembled designs by renowned Italian architect Carlo Scarpa and pointed her in the direction of Wright Auction House for further help.

Soon after she sent photos, Richard Wright, president of an auction house, asked if he could call. Richard explained: “From the minute I saw your photos I knew it would be great.”

On Wednesday, Ms. Vincent sold her vase at auction for $107,100 to an anonymous private art collector in Europe; roughly $83,500 went directly to Ms. Vincent while $23,600 went directly to Wright Auction House.

Specialists who assessed the piece identified it as part of Mr. Scarpa’s “Pennellate” series from the 1940s; though, how many vases of this style were produced remains unknown according to Mr. Wright.

He was particularly taken by the flawless condition of the glass.

“Had it had even one small chip, it probably would have sold for under $10,000,” he stated. “This was like finding an unexpected winning lottery ticket.”

How the vase arrived at Goodwill store remains unknown.

“Identifying who donated this piece would be nearly impossible,” stated Laura Faison, spokesperson of Goodwill of Central & Coastal Virginia, which processes over two million donations annually.

Wright Auction House experts estimated the vase could fetch anywhere between $30,000 to $50,000 at auction, yet Ms. Vincent knew she didn’t wish to keep it.

“Upon realizing how rare they are and their value, I became nervous to own one because anything could happen to it,” she explained. Having such an expensive piece can prompt one to ask themselves “what if.”

She imagined it being knocked over, or being broken into by strangers or becoming damaged in some manner by fire or some natural catastrophe.

“I knew I wanted to bring back into the art world; they didn’t even realize its existence,” Ms. Vincent stated. “I feel as if I have saved it from becoming obscure.”

Ms. Vincent, who trains polo horses, recently purchased a 1930 farmhouse that requires extensive renovation. For now, two space heaters provide heat. With her newly acquired money she hopes to upgrade the heating system, install a dishwasher and add fencing.

Ms. Vincent began frequenting thrift stores with her mother from when she was just a girl, developing an eye for treasures over time. Additionally, Ms. Vincent has an immense appreciation for “Antiques Roadshow”, enjoying research for purchases prior to making purchases.

She has made purchases of just a few dollars before, such as woodcarvings from Bali and Burt Groedel lithographs reportedly valued at several thousand dollars each.

After years of thrift store shopping, she never expected a discovery that would profoundly alter her life – that’s part of the fun, according to her.

“You never know what treasures await,” Vincent explained, “and that is part of the thrill.”

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