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The rare drawing was discovered at the Habitat for Humanity New York City ReStore in Woodside.
By Forum Staff
A drawing by famed Austrian Expressionist artist Egon Schiele valued as much as $200,000 was recently discovered at the Habitat for Humanity New York City ReStore in Woodside, according to Galerie St. Etienne in Manhattan, where the previously unknown sketch is currently on view.
A part-time art handler, picker and collector found the pencil-on-paper work at the Northern Boulevard thrift store. The drawing, along with related material, is now part of the Galerie St. Etienne exhibition, “The Art Dealer as Scholar,” on display at the celebrated West 57th Street space.
The anonymous finder of the rare depiction confirmed its authenticity with Jane Kallir, director of Galerie St. Etienne and the world’s leading expert on Egon Schiele. According to Kallir, it was sketched by Schiele in 1918, not long before he died in Vienna at age 28 in the Spanish flu pandemic. Other drawings of the same series are currently in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Leopold Museum in Vienna, Kallir noted.
The buyer, who also wishes to remain anonymous, immediately recognized a striking similarity to Schiele and contacted Galerie St. Etienne soon after purchasing the work to confirm its authenticity.
“A while ago, we were sent a rather blurry [computer file] of a drawing that had been purchased at a thrift store,” Kallir recalled. “‘Antiques Roadshow’ notwithstanding, works of genuine significance are seldom discovered in such a setting. So we did not expect much when, finally, the buyer of this drawing brought it in for us to examine. Nevertheless, based on the fluidity and spontaneity of the line, this drawing is, in my opinion, clearly by the hand of Egon Schiele. The subject, too, is unmistakably his: a little girl who regularly posed for the artist, alone and with her mother, in 1918.
“In over 30 years of authenticating Schiele’s work, I have only once before encountered a drawing with such an unlikely provenance,” Kallir added.
The owner has committed to donating a portion of the proceeds to Habitat for Humanity New York City. The Habitat NYC ReStore sells high-quality overstock and lightly-used furniture, appliances, building materials and home décor at steep discounts.
“We are so very grateful for their generosity and willingness to give back. And, maybe a little bit in shock but ultimately really happy for all involved,” said Karen Haycox, CEO of Habitat for Humanity New York City. “I can’t help but think that were it not for the Habitat NYC ReStore, this piece of art history might have ended up in a landfill, lost forever. Instead, like many of the excellent pieces of furniture, appliances and home items that we sell every day, it has been given new life. And I know that the gift to Habitat NYC will ensure that a hardworking, low-income family will have the opportunity for a simple, affordable place to call home. That is a life-changing gift that will last for generations to come.”
“The Art Dealer as Scholar” will be on display at Galerie St. Etienne through Oct. 11.