When one young boy turned up to Antiques Roadshow with an old painting he’d purchased for just $2, people presumably wrote his purchase off. However, he was confident in his discovery, certain it was worth $150. And much to his delight, it turned out the artwork was worth a lot more.
For two decades, PBS’ Antiques Roadshow had helped to uncover some of America’s most valuable collector’s items. From rare Chinese cups to important works of art, the show has wowed audiences with astonishing appraisals of valuables worth up to $1.5 million.
The show relies on members of the public to bring in antiques for appraisal. They will usually reveal everything they know about the item before handing it over to an expert for their opinion. Often, the appraiser then gives a more thorough background on the object in question before estimating its value.
One of the appraisers on the show is David Weiss, an expert in paintings and drawings. And as a specialist for America’s oldest auction house Freeman’s, he takes his work extremely seriously.
With that in mind, Weiss was no doubt a little surprised when he found himself sitting across from a young boy during a 2014 episode of Antiques Roadshow. The show in question was filmed in Richmond, Virginia, and featured what Weiss guessed was the youngest collector he’d even seen.
But while the boy may have been young, he was already experienced in the antiques field. “I like glass, sterling silver and art,” he told Weiss, adding that the best thing he’d found was a “big sterling silver tray.”
The youngster revealed that his favorite place to bargain hunt was “this junky auction” in his hometown. And when he did get his hands on a hidden gem, he said he preferred to sell it online for a profit rather than keep it himself.
He had decided to pay the Antiques Roadshow a visit after getting his hands on an old painting. The artwork depicted a young child sitting by a woman’s feet as they watched her sew. And to the untrained eye, it just looked like any other antique picture.
However, during his appraisal, Weiss was able to confirm that the picture was indeed a watercolor. And he was also able to clarify a small signature in the bottom, right-hand corner of the image. Before the appraisal, the boy had only been able to identify it as Albert.
The name actually read Albert Neuhuys. This was a very exciting development indeed. That’s because Neuhuys was a 19th century painter who made a name for himself with the Laren School of painters in the Netherlands.
Neuhuys’ work often depicted domestic life in the Dutch village of Laren, where the artist lived. Throughout his life, he painted local farming and weaving families in their homes and workplaces.
The artist’s cheerful depiction of everyday scenes proved very popular. As a result, he was able to sell watercolor copies of his originals to boost his own personal profit. Today, Neuhuys’ work can be found in galleries across the world, including the Scottish National Gallery in Edinburgh and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.
Filling his young collector in on the artist, Weiss explained, “Neuhuys was one of the Dutch painters. He was born in 1844, and he died in 1914. I think your watercolor was probably done in the last quarter of the 19th century.”
He went on to explain how the depiction of a mother and her child in the home environment was typical of the Dutch art scene at that time. But by this point there was presumably only one key fact the fresh-faced collector wanted to know – how much his painting was worth.
When asked for his own estimate, the youngster confidently suggested $150. Responding to the collector, Weiss agreed. “I think it’s worth $150.” But he added, “I think it’s more than $150.” And just how much more would come as a surprise to the boy and viewers alike.
Weiss continued. “Today if your Albert Neuhuys watercolor came to an auction, it would probably sell for between $1,000 and $1,500.” As he revealed his impressive estimate, the collector’s mouth fell open in disbelief.
“Woah,” the boy said, gesturing with his hand that he was mind-blown. “That’s a lot of money,” Weiss agreed. “Not bad for two bucks,” he added. “So I think you’ve got a great career going as an art dealer. You should keep at it.”
However, given his latest find, the youngster didn’t need any reassurance that he was a talented collector. “I know,” he said. Then, uttering a line that would earn him a legion of fans, he added, “I think I’m going to be rich.”