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Painting bought for $4 from New Hampshire thrift store sells for $191,000

Sept. 20 (UPI) -- A painting purchased from a New Hampshire thrift store for $4 was auctioned for $191,000 when it turned out to be a long-lost work by N.C. Wyeth.

The painting, titled Ramona, was one of four created by the Pennsylvania-based artist for a 1939 edition of Helen Hunt Jackson's 1884 book Ramona. The work depicts an orphaned young woman in conflict with her foster mother.

Auction house Bonhams Skinner said the painting was considered long-lost by Wyeth experts, but it turned up in the possession of a New Hampshire woman.

The woman said she bought the painting from her local Savers thrift store for $4 and it spent some time on her wall before going into a closet.

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She discovered the painting's true identity after she posted a photo of it on Facebook and was urged to contact curators at the Brandywine Museum in Chadds Ford, Pa., and a former Wyeth curator in Maine named Lauren Lewis.

The woman decided to have the painting auctioned after its identity was verified. It fetched a high bid of $150,000, making the final sale price $191,000 once premiums and fees were included.

The painting's whereabouts before turning up at the thrift store remain a mystery, but Bonhams Skinner theorized it may have been gifted to the book's publisher by Wyeth's estate.