Jessica Vincent had just started surveying the shelves of a Virginia thrift store when a vase caught her eye. It was shaped like a bottle and had ribbons of colour, aqua green and amethyst purple, that spiralled up its glass surface like stripes of paint.
The piece looked old amongst the clutter of measuring cups, candles and other tchotchkes. After adjusting her eyes, Vincent made out the words “Murano” and “Italia” on its base.
“I bought it thinking it would look beautiful in my house somewhere,” said Vincent, 43, a horse trainer who paid US$3.99 (S$5.30) at a Goodwill outside of Richmond. “I definitely didn’t buy it thinking, ‘Oh, I’m going to sell this.’ ”
Her thinking changed after some research. And on Dec. 13, the vase sold through the Wright Auction House for US$107,100. The buyer, a top collector from Europe, wished to remain private.
Vincent’s purchase came after years of perusing yard sales and thrift stores with her mother. She loves PBS’ Antiques Roadshow and has daydreamed many times of this kind of lottery ticket-level transaction.
“I always felt like I had a good eye,” said Vincent, who visits thrift stores a few times a week with her partner. “But I’m really surprised that nobody picked it up before I did.”
The vase was likely on the shelf for only a couple days given its quality and the quick rate at which products are sold, said Laura Faison, a spokeswoman for Goodwill of Central and Coastal Virginia. Each store averages about 2,000 new pieces a day, and they often come in from a car’s trunk.
“It could have been someone cleaning out grandma’s basement,” Faison said of the vase’s backstory. “We’ll probably never know.”