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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Valuable painting shows up in thrift store donation bin

I noticed this story today about a Canadian thrift store which thought it had received an authentic painting in its donation bin and called an art appraiser. They were right. The appraiser placed the value at between $7,000 and $15,000. Click here to read the story. The painting in question is pictured here.

Cleaning out the contents of a home is a job that falls on an executor. The executor may do the work himself, or enlist the help of family members, or hire cleaners and movers, depending on the circumstances. Regardless of who actually does the work, the responsibility for the contents of the house rests on the executor. Items that seem to have no value or little value are often donated to charitable organizations or thrift stores such as the one in this news story.

However, there is an inherent danger for executors in donating items such as paintings. If the executor gives it away and he or the beneficiaries later find out that it is worth $7,000 to $15,000, he is in trouble. He may be forced to pay the value of the painting to the beneficiaries, because if he hadn't given it away, they would have received it and could have sold it.

Whenever an executor comes across anything such as paintings, antiques, jewelry or unusual objects, it is a good idea to do some research or call some experts to see whether the item is valuable. The experts may be paid from the estate, as this is a reasonable action for the executor to take.

You'll notice when reading this story that the thrift store has a formal appeals process in place for situations in which someone accidentally donates a valuable object. I wonder how many executors have thanked their lucky stars for that kind of process?

The attached photo of the painting by John Lyman appeared on www.cbc.ca and is credited to Sara Gaugl.

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