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NEW YORK (AP) — A man who paid $5 for a 19th-century painting he bought at a garage sale has sold it to a museum for $1 million, an art publication reported.

The unidentified 29-year-old actor found Joseph Decker’s (search) "Ripening Pears" wrapped in a blanket at a Los Angeles garage sale three years ago, the report in ARTnewsletter said.


The woman who sold him the painting said it had been sitting in her garage for more than 60 years, the publication said. Decker painted it around 1884 or 1885.

The National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., bought the painting in February for $1 million, said Meredith E. Ward, who served as the man’s broker. The painting hung on the man’s kitchen wall for two years before he decided to do an Internet search on Decker, according to ARTnewsletter. Once he realized Decker’s fame, the man e-mailed a digital photo of the picture to the Manhattan-based Richard York Gallery, which specializes in 19th- and 20th-century American art.

"I looked at the e-mail, and I said, ’It’s too good to be true,’" said Ward, executive vice president of the gallery.


The painting was not valuable because of where it was located (it was in a garage). It was not valuable because of who owned it (a 29-year-old actor). It was valuable because of it’s creator. That is true with you and me. It is NOT who we are, nor where we live, nor who our parents are, our job or education that make us valuable – it is our Creator, and his work in our lives.

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