Artwork by Famous Spanish Artist Discovered in Thrift Store

Category: Lifestyle/Entertainment


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. appraise / əˈpreɪz / (v) – to determine the value of something

    The expert appraised the old artwork and helped sell it for $50,000.

  2. iconic / aɪˈkɒn ɪk / (adj) – being popular or admired by many people

    The Beatles were an iconic British band.

  3. portray / pɔrˈtreɪ / (v) – to present someone or something in a specific way

    The song portrays the songwriter as a very emotional man.

  4. commemorate / kəˈmɛm əˌreɪt / (v) – to do something special in order to remember someone or something

    The temple was built to commemorate the emperor’s late wife.

  5. call off (something) / kɔl ɔf / (phrasal) – to cancel a plan or a deal

    We decided to call off the trip because of bad weather.


Read the text below.

An art piece donated to a thrift store in North Carolina turned out to be an original work by Spanish painter Salvador Dalí.

Wendy Hawkins, a volunteer at the Hotline Pink Thrift Shop, noticed the artwork in the store’s sorting room. She thought that the painting looked special and asked the shop if she could have it appraised.

Art appraiser Melanie Smith confirmed that the piece is a wood engraving print made by Salvador Dalí—an iconic artist known for his dreamlike paintings and sculptures. One of Dalí’s famous works is The Persistence of Memory, a painting of a landscape with melting clocks.

The artwork Hawkins found is part of a series of 100 visuals portraying The Divine Comedy—a long poem written by Italian scholar Dante Alighieri.

Around the 1950s, Dalí was commissioned by the Italian government to make the series to commemorate the 700th anniversary of Dante’s birth. However, many Italians did not like the idea of a Spanish artist creating the tribute. Authorities eventually called off the project, but Dalí continued the work and took it to a French publisher, who eventually released the series.

According to Smith, Dalí signed the piece twice using a wooden stamp and a purple pencil, making it more valuable.

Initially, the thrift shop had included the piece in its collection of donated items, which the shop usually prices between $10 to $50. Luckily, Smith got it appraised, and the shop was able to sell the artwork for $1,200.

According to the store, the proceeds will be given to a charity helping homeless teenagers and victims of domestic violence and abuse.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• If you were the thrift store owner, would you agree to sell the painting? Why or why not?
• What would you do if you found a valuable artwork in a thrift store? Explain.

Discussion B

• What event in history would you want to be commemorated in an artwork? Why?
• What kind of artwork can best capture that event (e.g. sculpture, poem)? Describe it.