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'Ornate, gaudy' painting found at B.C. thrift store could be worth thousands of dollars

An art gallery has put the man in touch with two appraisers.

The dream of a thrift-store find turning out to be something valuable could be coming true for Dr. Stephen Burgess.

He found an intriguing frame at the Courtenay Value Village last weekend and thought enough of it to pay $130 for the frame and the painting inside. A bit of research shows the painting could be worth a whole lot more.

But Burgess, a general practitioner with an expertise in dermatology, isn’t worried about a windfall — he’s planning a donation to the local hospice foundation when the value is determined.

He said he wants to pass his luck in finding the painting forward “because it’s also someone’s misfortune in giving away this piece.”

“This is kind of the real deal kind of thing,” Burgess said of the painting. “I’m still in the process of trying to get the thing authenticated, but from my preliminary research and everything I can see it’s almost certainly an original. Just with respect to the markings on the back of the canvas, you can see the oil brush strokes wrapping around the painting onto the sides of the canvas.”

The artist looks to be the Dutch painter Gerritjen Wijmer, born in 1870, whose work is listed anywhere from about $5,000 to $350,000, Burgess said.

“This range is absolutely enormous, but given the size and quality I see, if this turns out to be a real thing, you’re probably looking easily in the several 10s upwards of a couple of hundred thousand [dollars].”

The Value Village painting fits with Wijmer’s style, with a mountain scene tucked into a mist, Burgess said.

He said he enjoys poking his head into thrift stores.

“I’m a big fan of recycling and I kind of oppose general commercialism, so it’s a place to go and repurpose things.”

Burgess said he is in the middle of redecorating his home and liked the picture’s frame.

“I look at the art pieces mostly because I’m interested in the frames, and I want to grab a good frame and probably stick a different print inside of it,” he said. “So when I see an interesting frame, I consider whether or not it’s worth picking up.”

He said he was drawn to the painting’s gold-coloured frame, which looked to be quite old, dating back about 100 years or so.

“I’ve got one room in my house where this kind of frame would fit,” Burgess said.

As he was standing in the store with the painting “I kind of knew right away that, hey, I might be on to something.”

“I was very giddy in the store.”

Burgess said a local art gallery has put him in touch with two appraisers.