Woman buys $3.99 vase at Goodwill — you won’t believe what it fetched at auction – National



In the world of thrifting and reselling, a lot of good fortune comes from pure luck, but it also doesn’t hurt to have a bit of understanding about potential value in your back pocket, either.

Such was the case for Jessica Vincent, a thrifter from Virginia, who just flipped an Italian glass vase for an enormous profit.

Vincent was combing through her local Goodwill in June, skimming over the typical secondhand fare — old electronics, bedding and nothing-fancy dishware.

But it was an iridescent glass vase, swiped with red and green streaks, that caught her eye.

When she took the vase off the high shelf she noticed a small “M” on the bottom and suspected it might be a piece of valuable Murano glass. Murano is an island off the coast of Venice and known to be the manufacturing home for some of Italy’s most valuable glassware.

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Vincent said she also spotted what appeared to be an artist signature on the bottom of the piece, which sent her thrifting senses tingling.

“I had a sense that it might be a $1,000 or $2,000 piece,” she told the New York Times, adding, “but I had no clue how good it actually was until I did a little bit more research.”


This image provided by Wright Auction House shows a vase by Italian architect and designer Carlo Scarpa which was part of his Pennelatte series in the 1940s. Jessica Vincent purchased it at a Goodwill store outside Richmond, Va., in June for $3.99.


Wright Auction House via The Associated Press

Vincent said there was no price visible on the vase, so she took it to the till, determined not to pay more than $9. When the cashier set the price at US$3.99, she gladly purchased it and went on her way.


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According to CBS News, Vincent tapped into the knowledge of an Italian glass collecting group on Facebook to get a better sense of the vase’s worth. The group’s members overwhelmingly told her that she needed to contact an auction house.

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The Wright auction house, which eventually handled the sale, said it’s one of the rarest pieces of Italian glass they’ve seen in more than a decade. It was made by renowned Italian artist Carlo Scarpa, as part of a series for Venini, in 1942.

“It’s a very well documented piece of glass,” Richard Wright, president of the auction house, told CBS. “Carlo Scarpa is really one of the preeminent, most famous glass designers of Italian glass in the midcentury. So his designs are valued by the market right at the top.”


This image provided by Wright Auction House shows a vase by Italian architect and designer Carlo Scarpa which was part of his Pennelatte series in the 1940s.


Wright Auction House via The Associated Press

The artist used a complex technique to combine opaque and transparent glass, achieving the illusion of brushstrokes. The vase is part of Scarpa’s Pennellate series (“Pennellate” means “brushstrokes” in Italian), which ultimately only included a small number of glassworks, likely due to the difficulty involved in production.

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Vincent told Southern Living magazine that the vase, which was in very good condition with no chips or cracks, was expected to fetch between US$30,000 and $50,000 at auction.

But the final sale far exceeded everyone’s expectations.

“[The bids] just kept going up and up and up. I was holding my breath,” Vincent told Elle Decor. “It’s just really unbelievable that my $3.99 vase sold for $85,000,” the final price excluding the buyer’s premium. She added, “It’s just a blessing.”

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Including the buyer’s premium, the vase fetched US$107,100. The buyer was a collector from Europe, who requested to remain private.

“I always felt like I had a good eye,” Vincent, who visits thrift stores a few times a week with her partner, told The Associated Press. “But I’m really surprised that nobody picked it up before I did.”

Laura Faison, a spokeswoman for Goodwill of Central and Coastal Virginia, said she’s unsure of how a piece of such value ended up on their shelves, adding that it does happen sometimes.

“It could have been someone cleaning out grandma’s basement,” Faison told AP. “We’ll probably never know.”

Vincent said she will use her proceeds from the sale — about US$83,500 — to renovate an old farmhouse she recently purchased with her partner.

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