You Love To See It: Punter Flips $6 Op Shop Vase For Nearly $160,000
— 19 December 2023

You Love To See It: Punter Flips $6 Op Shop Vase For Nearly $160,000

— 19 December 2023
Randy Lai
WORDS BY
Randy Lai

Joining the ranks of all-time great barn find moments (whether your preferred subject matter be Romanée-Conti jeroboams or a $400,000 Rolex Daytona) a thrifter in Brookneal, Virginia has just sold a rare Murano vase — designed by renowned Italian architect Carlo Scarpa — to the tune of ~$160,000 (US$107,100).

Jessica Vincent, the aforementioned Virginia resident, happened upon her payday at a run-of-the-mill thrift store in Hanover County. Discarded among a hodgepodge of lamps, glassware and old VHS tapes; Vincent managed to convince the Goodwill attendant present to part with this Italian masterwork for ~$5.94 (US$3.99).

Initially attracted to the vessel’s arcing whirls of green and red, she soon found the base was decorated with a small M-shaped hallmark. Armchair experts on Facebook quickly identified this as evidence of the object’s origin from Murano — a chain of small islands north of Venice that, since the 19th century, has been home to the most “expertly made glass found throughout Western Europe“.

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Vincent subsequently brought her findings to the attention of New York-based Wright Auctions, who publicly facilitated the sale of this rare, Murano-made Carlo Scarpa vase for $160,000.

All told, after costs, Vincent walked away with around $126,482 (US$85,000): a tidy return on a principal so modest that it wouldn’t even cover the cost of your next single-origin cold brew coffee. At least, not in this economy.

Goodwill Carlo Scarpa vase
Pictured: The hand-blown green and red vessel was part of the Penellate series, designed by Scarpa for now-defunct glassmaker Venini in the 1940s.

Aside from obvious factors, such as weight and intensity of colour, Wright’s specialists indicated that one of the key factors in this work’s record performance was — cue mock surprise — its overall condition. Richard Wright, the eponymous house’s President, was effusive in his praise on that front. “If it had a chip — even a small one — it would have probably sold for under [US$10,000],” he said.

“This was like a winning lottery ticket.”

Randy Lai
WORDS by
Following 6 years in the trenches covering consumer luxury across East Asia, Randy joins Boss Hunting as the team's Commercial Editor. His work has been featured in A Collected Man, M.J. Bale, Soho Home, and the BurdaLuxury portfolio of lifestyle media titles. An ardent watch enthusiast, boozehound and sometimes-menswear dork, drop Randy a line at [email protected].

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