The thrilling and tumultuous saga of the Maud Lewis painting found in a thrift shop donation bin has come to a successful end. The online auction of “Portrait of Eddie Barnes and Ed Murphy, Lobster Fisherman, Bay View, Nova Scotia” concluded on May 20, 2017, with the winning bid reaching $45,000. The proceeds from the auction will support the relief, development, and peace work of Mennonite Central Committee (MCC).
The painting was first discovered over a year ago by Louis Silcox, a volunteer at the New Hamburg Thrift Centre, an MCC Ontario Thrift Shop. Thankfully, another volunteer thought the painting might be genuine. After the painting was authenticated, MCC put it up for auction.
An opportunity arose to partner with a local cinema for a special advanced screening of the highly-acclaimed bio-pic, Maudie, starring Sally Hawkins and Ethan Hawke, which proved a perfect setting to launch the auction. The film depicted the humble life Lewis and her husband led, selling her paintings on the roadside for $2 to tourists passing by. Despite her abject poverty and debilitated by acute chronic arthritis since childhood, her strong spirit has lifted her legacy and art well beyond her lifetime.
Despite the initial auction having a false start due to a fake bidder acting in bad faith, the re-started auction saw the painting sell for more than three times its assessed value and more than double the price of the previous highest price of a Maud Lewis painting.
“We are thrilled with the selling price and it’s poetic that the art of a Canadian artist who lived in poverty will be going toward helping others in need,” says Rick Cober Bauman, executive director of MCC Ontario.