NEW YORK (FOX 5 NY) - The idea of one person's trash is another person's treasure has come to life with the discovery of a drawing by Austrian artist Egon Schiele. An anonymous buyer found the pencil-on-paper piece in a thrift store in Queens.
"I was shocked. You think this is going to happen, or you've seen it happen to other people, but you never think it would happen here," said Leslie Williams, the director of Habitat NYC ReStore in Woodside. The thrift store is among more than 800 across the country that raise funds to build affordable housing.
"We collect donations from all five boroughs," Williams said. "We sell them here for a really great price, and all the proceeds go back to Habitat New York City."
More than a year ago, the buyer of the art piece, titled Reclining Nude Girl, emailed photos to the Galerie St. Etienne in Manhattan. We spoke to the gallery director Jane Kallir by phone from her home in Southampton.
"We get literally hundreds of e-mails with images of drawings and watercolors that people think are by Egon Shiele," she said. "99.9% of the time they are not."
When the buyer finally brought the drawing into the gallery, Kallir was able to authenticate it.
"It is the way that he draws—the ability to be able to capture the form and space with a very, very minimum of line is something that almost no other artist in the history of art has been able to do," she said.
Schiele created this drawing in 1918 right before his death at the age of 28. The piece is valued between $100,000 and $200,000. The drawing is part of an exhibit called The Art Dealer as Scholar. If it sells, the man who found the drawing plans to donate some proceeds to Habitat for Humanity.
In the meantime, the folks at the thrift store are keeping a closer eye on customer donations.
"It'll happen again," Williams said. "You watch."
The public is welcome to view the drawing at the gallery Tuesdays through Fridays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Galerie St. Etienne | 24 West 57 Street, New York, N.Y. 10019 | 212-245-6734 | gseart.com