Donated Salvador Dali art fetches $21,000 in online auction

Donated Salvador Dali art fetches $21,000 in online auction
This is not a photograph of the painting that was sold.

POSTED: Wednesday, November 21, 2012 - 4:00am

UPDATED: Wednesday, November 21, 2012 - 5:43pm

A Salvador Dali etching that was anonymously donated to Goodwill fetched $21,005 in an online auction, the nonprofit said Tuesday.

The money will fund 12 scholarships to provide job training to people with disabilities and disadvantages, said Amanda Bedell, spokeswoman for Goodwill Industries in Tacoma, Washington.

The buyer, identified only as an East Coast man by Goodwill, said that he and his wife are interested in Dali's work.

"We saw the Dali on the news and thought it would be a great way to add to our collection while supporting a great cause," he said in a statement. "We donate to Goodwill all the time and are very happy that our purchase is helping those in need."

Earlier this month, an anonymous donor dropped off the framed Dali piece at the Goodwill facility in Federal Way, Washington.

The work by the master surrealist is a colored etching, and the framed piece even features the familiar Dali motif of a melting watch placed on the wrist of a pointing hand.

Its title is "Reflection" or "Reflections," from "The Cycles of Life Suite," and the art is signed by Dali and numbered "126/150." The work is also labeled as an "etching and photolithography from collage."

Goodwill auctioned the art on its website, and bidding ended Monday night.

Goodwill doesn't know who the donor is. He or she managed to sneak away during a busy time at the drop-off facility, the organization said.

But the donor kept intact the back of the frame, which contained an envelope with a certificate of authenticity and registration number from a defunct gallery in North Hollywood, California.

An appraiser retained by Goodwill also confirmed the authenticity of the Dali, and the charitable organization also ensured the art had not been stolen, Bedell said.

The nonprofit provides employment and training programs to people with disabilities and disadvantages, and the group sells donated goods in more than 2,600 stores.

Goodwill held on to the Dali for a week in case someone claimed it had been donated accidentally, Bedell said.

"We don't know the background of what the circumstances were," Bedell said of the donation. "It's a steady stream of people coming in. It's not necessarily documented what every person comes in with."

About 74 million people in the United States and Canada donate annually to Goodwill, Bedell said.

Most donated goods are sold at Goodwill stores, but prizes such as the Dali are auctioned online to maximize their value, said Shea Munroe, who works for Goodwill's online department in Federal Way.

The Dali was the highlight of Munroe's past six years of working for the nonprofit, in addition to her two years of service in the 1970s, she said.

But the Dali piece is not the most prized art auctioned by Goodwill: A Frank Weston Benson oil painting, dated 1924 and also donated anonymously, was sold online by Goodwill in 2006 for $165,002. 

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