Dumpster Diving Pays Off with Stolen Art Find

Irwin Weiner ASID - My partner Jay likes to take home old things he finds on the curbs of New York City. He's wise enough not to go for throw-out upholstered furniture or old mattresses. (Think: bedbugs!) But one day he brought home a painting I despised. It's an abstract of what looks like an Eastern European village and there's an old woman bent over walking with the help of a cane. Art is visceral, and I took an immediate disliking to the piece (it's now hanging up in a storage barn in the back of our lot in rural Pennsylvania).

But Jay loves his "major art find" and showed me the story of "Tres Personajes," the Rufino Tamayo masterpiece that was found by a woman who was dumpster diving in the very spot you see in the photo above ... on the streets of Manhattan, just like Jay's art discovery. The painting that she found, however, had been stolen 30 years before her 2007 discovery; she had the painting researched, returned to the owners, she collected $15,000 reward for the painting's return and Sotheby's gave her an undisclosed finder's fee when it sold at auction <drum roll> for over $1 million. Jay says that his crooked old lady abstract is worth at least that much. Yeah, right.



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