Maud Lewis painting found in thrift shop enters final week of auction

The online auction of the Maud Lewis folk art painting Portrait of Eddie Barnes and Ed Murphy, found among thrift centre donations in New Hamburg, Ont., ends Friday.

Online bidding hits $45,000 as auction heads for Friday deadline

This Maud Lewis painting was discovered by volunteers at the Mennonite Central Committee Thrift Centre in New Hamburg, Ont. The painting is being auctioned off to support the MCC. (Ken Ogasawara/MCC Photo)

The painting found in a New Hamburg, Ont. thrift shop a little over a year ago will finally be sold this week in the second round of an online auction.

By Monday the bidding had reached $45,000. The auction ends Friday. 

The painting is by the prolific Canadian folk artist Maud Lewis, who's the subject of an independent biopic that took Atlantic Canada by storm this spring.

The auction had to be stopped and restarted, because someone bid $125,000 in "bad faith," Rick Cober Bauman, the executive director of Mennonite Central Committee Ontario, told CBC News.

Lewis life

Lewis lived in poverty for most of her life and sold her paintings from her home near Digby, N.S., for as little as $2 and
$3. She died in 1970, but her paintings have since sold for up to $22,000.

Cober Bauman said it's been an exciting journey since Portrait of Eddie Barnes and Ed Murphy, Lobster Fisherman, Bay View, Nova Scotia, was found in donations made to the MCC thrift shop.

"It just so happened that one of our volunteers that day had a hunch that it might be something out of the ordinary," he said. 

Louis Silcox, a volunteer, and Karla Richards, the general manager of the New Hamburg Thrift Centre, hold an original Maud Lewis painting discovered at centre amongst donations. (Ken Ogasawara/MCC Photo)

Painting traveled

After having it appraised – and valued at approximately $16,000 – the painting has been ferried back and forth between New Hamburg, an exhibit at a Nova Scotia art gallery and a Waterloo, Ont., theatre.

"We were always planning to go to some sort of an auction," Cober Bauman said.

The proceeds will further MCC's relief work, including in South Sudan, where the organization is working to help alleviate the effects of a famine.

Cober Bauman said the $45,000 bid that has been made would more than satisfy his organization, given that it's twice what Lewis's paintings have garnered in the past and it's nearly three times the value at which the work was appraised.

Cober Bauman said he thinks the high bid may be in part because of the buzz surrounding the Lewis biopic, but that people also may be driven to pay more because they know the money is going to charity.

With files from Canadian Press