By Rob Lammle
One day, an employee at a tool-and-die company in Indiana spent $30 for a few pieces of used furniture and an old painting of some flowers.
When he got his new stuff home, he decided to strategically hang the picture to cover up a hole in the wall that had been bugging him.
Some years later he was playing a board game called Masterpiece in which players attempt to outbid one another for artwork at an auction.
Much to his surprise, one of the cards in the game featured a painting of flowers that looked a lot like the one he had on his wall.
So he went online and found that his painting was similar in style to the work of Martin Johnson Heade, an American still-life artist best known for landscapes and flower arrangements.
Through his research he found the Kennedy Galleries in Manhattan, which handles many of Heade’s works, and asked them to take a look at his painting.
They agreed and were able to verify that the piece of artwork covering the hole in his wall was a previously unknown Heade painting, since named Magnolias on Gold Velvet Cloth.
In 1999, The Museum of Fine Arts in Houston purchased the painting for $1.2 million dollars.