COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — An unemployed Ohioan was browsing at his local thrift store for items he could restore and resell when he spotted a Picasso poster with the word “Exposition” written across the front, some French words, and the image of a warped round face. He handed over $14.14 for what he saw as a nice commercial print.
Some Internet searches later — and a closer look at markings on the lower right area of the poster — and he sold what’s believed to be a signed Picasso print for $7,000 to a private buyer who wants to remain anonymous.
“A pretty darn good return,” said Zachary Bodish with a chuckle. “Can’t get that at the bank.”
The 46-year-old Bodish, who was an event and volunteer coordinator at a local museum for six years, originally turned to the Internet and a personal blog to write about his neat find from early March. Bodish had lately been supplementing his income with buying and reselling restored furniture, and he suddenly realized he may have hit the jackpot.
“I could tell it was not a modern print,” he said. “So I thought, ‘Well, it’s probably not really a fine Picasso print. What’s the chance of finding that in a thrift store in Columbus, Ohio?’”
His online search uncovered the print’s history as an exhibition advertisement. And he began to look closely at some very faded red writing on the lower right area.
“It wasn’t until I realized where the signature would be, and that those little red marks were right where the signature should be, that I got a stronger magnifying glass out and determined that, ‘Holy cow! It’s really a Picasso.”’
Bodish said he consulted with art experts and met with a representative from Christie’s auction house to authenticate the piece. A Christie’s representative confirmed that Bodish met with a specialist, but the auction house said its policy is not to comment on items that aren’t sold through them. In this case, Bodish decided to sell the print privately in April.
Lisa Florman, an associate history professor at Ohio State University, has written several essays and a book on Picasso. She said Picasso designed the print to advertise a 1958 Easter exhibition of his ceramic work in Vallauris, France. Bodish’s print, which is marked as number six, is valuable for being in the artist’s proof range. That means it’s possibly one of only a handful he personally reviewed before they were mass produced.
Ed Zettler, a 72-year-old retired English teacher, claims the print sat in his basement for years before he decided to donate it to the thrift store where Bodish later found it. Zettler has no hard feelings about what happened.
“I gave it away. Someone else found it. He fortunately saw more. It’s his,” Zettler said. “That’s the risk you take when you bring something to the thrift store.”