What Lurks In Your Walls Or Some People Have All The Luck


As I have stated many times before, I love the Antiques Roadshow[1].  I especially love hearing the stories of how people happened to find their treasures. Usually people find things at yard sales, estate sales, tucked away in an attic, a basement, a closet or even curbside. Well, not too long ago there were two people who found treasures in their home that would astound the appraisers at the Antiques Roadshow.

First there’s Blair Pitre of Lacombe, Alberta, Canada. He bought a turn of the century bungalow and started work on renovating it.  As he was tearing down the walls, he found movie posters from the late 1920’s/early 1930’s featuring actors such as Greta Garbo, Charlie Chaplin and Joan Crawford. This is an important period in the history of motion pictures because the industry was transitioning from silent to talkies. The previous owner, an 80-year-old woman who died in 2009, was the granddaughter of an early twentieth century movie theater owner in Pitre’s town. As to why the posters were in the wall, most likely she used them as insulation and never thought that they would be worth anything. Pitre had the posters auctioned off to help pay for renovation of his house. One poster, Bulldog Drummond, a drama from 1929 sold for $9,000. Pitre hopes to find more posters in his home. In particular, he is hoping to find Metropolis, since that poster is worth a million dollars.

Next there’s retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Martin Kober. For as long as he could remember, a painting of the Virgin Mary crying over the crucified Jesus has been in his family.  Family lore said that the painting was a Michelangelo. The item hung over the sofa of his parents home, until the day when the younger Kober threw a tennis ball and knocked it off the wall. His parents then wrapped it up and kept it behind the sofa. When Kober retired in 2003, he decided to research the history of this painting. One expert, Antonio Forcellino says that the painting is a actual Michelangelo painting, another expert, William Wallace says that it isn’t. Forcellino bases his claims on his expertise as a restorer, as well as the painting’s similarity to a drawing Michelangelo did that is now at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. Wallace states that while the piece is impressive, it was not done by Michelangelo. So, who’s right? Time and more examination by experts will tell.

Still, what I want to know is why are Pitre and Kober so lucky? How come their treasures were right under their noses and all that’s in my walls is insulation and all that is behind my sofa are dust bunnies? This inquiring mind wants to know.

Sources:

http://www.montrealgazette.com/entertainment/movie-guide/Lost+found+Vintage+movie+posters+fetch/3300921/story.html

http://www.cnn.com/2010/US/10/12/new.york.painting


[1] Antiques Roadshow is the American version of the BBC television show of the same name that airs on PBS. This show has people bringing their antique and collectible items to appraisers and the appraisers tell them if their items are worth anything. Sometimes the items are worth something and sometimes they aren’t.

 

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