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A Widower's Big Surprise / Nick Ehrhardt

A Widower's Big Surprise

Estate sales often yield some amazing finds. You might find vintage suits that fit you perfectly, or a piece of china that completes your grandmother's collection. More often than not, it's just the average, everyday stuff we all accumulate during our lives. Sometimes, though, you find something truly spectacular.

That's what happened to a widower recently in Oxfordshire, England. After his wife died, he began the process of organizing her belongings and discovered an enchanting painting among her possessions. Sometime last year, she had attended an estate sale and picked up the work for about $161, according to Spear's. A little research revealed the painting to be a long-lost masterpiece by British painter Eric Ravilious titled Bathing Machines, Aldeburgh. According to Spear's, the painting was authenticated by Ravilious' daughter, who was thrilled to see her father's work again, calling it "an absolute corker."

The piece has since fetched about $500,000 at auction. The price, which set a record for the painter's work, proved a lovely surprise for the widower – who chose to remain anonymous – from his late wife.