A Thrift Store Treasure: How a $4 Vase Turned into a $100,000 Windfall

A Virginia woman who bought a glass vase for $3.99 at a Goodwill store was stunned to discover that it was worth over $100,000. The vase, designed by renowned Italian architect Carlo Scarpa, was sold to an auction house that specializes in modern design.

Jessica Vincent, a Richmond native who raises polo ponies, was shopping at a local Goodwill store with her partner when she spotted a stunning glass vase with a swirling translucent red and seafoam green pattern. She said she was drawn to the vase by its beauty and craftsmanship.

“I couldn’t believe that it was glass like solid glass not painted. It was iridized it was just really beautiful up close,” Vincent told USA TODAY. “In my mind, I thought maybe it’s like a $1000 $2,000 piece. I knew it was good but I didn’t know it was like the master work that it is at the moment.”

A Thrift Store Treasure: How a $4 Vase Turned into a $100,000 Windfall
A Thrift Store Treasure: How a $4 Vase Turned into a $100,000 Windfall

Vincent, who has been thrifting for years, said she had a hunch that the vase was something special. She decided to do some research online and found a collectors Facebook group that directed her to several auctioneers, including the Wright auction house.

The Sale of a Masterpiece

Some of Wright auction house’s specialists visited Vincent to see the piece in-person and make an offer. They confirmed that the vase was designed by Carlo Scarpa, one of the most influential architects and designers of the 20th century. Scarpa was known for his innovative use of glass, creating pieces that resembled paintings with brush strokes of color.

The vase, which was made in 1936, is part of Scarpa’s Murrine Romane series, which is considered one of his most important and rarest works. Only a handful of examples are known to exist, and they are highly sought after by collectors and museums.

Wright auction house offered Vincent $107,000 for the vase, which she accepted. She said she felt blessed that her thrifting hobby paid off huge. She said she recently bought an old farmhouse that needs a complete renovation and is excited she can now afford a heating system.

“For me, it’s like winning the lottery really. It’s just an incredible thing,” she said. “It’s super, super surreal. Even now, I’m still pinching myself.”

The Future of the Vase

Vincent said she was happy that the vase is now in a safe collection where it is appreciated and valued. She said keeping the vase inside her home would be too nerve-wracking, as she worried about the possibility of damage or theft.

“I’m so happy that the piece is also back where it belongs really. It’s in a safe collection where it’s known now,” she said.

Wright auction house said the vase will be featured in its upcoming sale of modern design on January 25, 2024. The vase is expected to fetch between $150,000 and $200,000, according to the auction house’s website.

Richard Wright, the founder of the auction house, said the vase is a testament to Scarpa’s vision and skill, as well as to the thrill of finding hidden gems in unexpected places.

“It’s also a testament to his idea that a vase can be elevated to become a work of art. So it really is referencing fine art as it’s painted with these brush strokes while the glass is hot and being blown so it’s pretty special,” Wright said.

“It’s a great story of discovery and it’s a great story of design.”

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