What Would You Do If You Found A Lost Warhol Painting?

November 9, 2016 | by Michael Easterling

Found in a Thrift Store, “The Gold Thinker” is Being Sold at Auction, Benefitting Our Cancer Research

GiveHope - Andy Warhol Painting "The Gold Thinker" by Andy Warhol

When Michael Wilson was visiting an Angel View Retail Store in San Bernardino, he came across a simple but eye-catching painting of a young boy admiring a gilded cage. Wilson was drawn to the unique characteristics of the painting. He decided to pay the $40 asking price and make it a part of his collection at the Joshua Tree home he shares with his wife, Shirley, a retired nurse.

At the time, Wilson did not know he had just purchased an original, early-career painting by pop artist Andy Warhol. It was only later when he learned of the discovery in Las Vegas of another lost Warhol painting of bandleader Rudy Valee that he became curious about the owner of the obscure signature on his bargain canvas.

“There was something about the swirl in the capital letter ‘A’ of “Warhol” that seemed familiar to me,” Wilson says. “I took my thrift store painting down from the attic and compared it to a picture of the Warhol painting that had been found, and I knew it was the same artist.” Wilson had his $40 purchase authenticated, and sure enough, it is a genuine Warhol. Called “The Gold Thinker,” the painting is from Warhol’s 1950s era works. Still in its original frame, it has been appraised at $2.5 million.

That’s the opening bid for the painting, now available at auction through eBay for Charity.  Ten percent of the final bid is being donated to benefit City of Hope’s research into cancer, diabetes and other life-threatening diseases.

GiveHope - Eric-Mike-Shirley Left to right: Eric Gazin, Mike and Shirley Wilson in front of the Spirit of Life fountain on City of Hope’s main campus.

Both Michael and Shirley Wilson have family histories of cancer. He lost his mother to pancreatic cancer while her mother was treated for ovarian cancer.  Wanting to support a cure, the Wilsons were introduced to City of Hope by Eric Gazin, president of the cause marketing agency AuctionCause. A longtime supporter of City of Hope and frequent blood and platelet donor to our Michael Amini Transfusion Medicine Center, it was Gazin who suggested a portion of the proceeds of the previously unknown Warhol go toward City of Hope.

“I have been a fan of City of Hope for many years,” says Gazin, who also once persuaded the cast of Mad Men to host an auction benefiting our smoking cessation program. “I knew City of Hope would be a good fit for the Wilsons and the Warhol.”

The Wilsons agree, having recently completed a tour of the Duarte campus and learning more about our remarkable breakthroughs and translational research, a large portion of which exists through philanthropic funding.

“We are very impressed with City of Hope. Finding the painting was a neat discovery, but it’s also good to know that whoever buys it is also helping sustain the work City of Hope does every day.”

The auction was live as of November 7th.  You can read more about it here.

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