Can you imagine finding out that the painting you’ve been using as a bulletin board in your kitchen is actually a piece of art credited with helping to save Nelson Mandela’s life and is worth a cool $1.5 million dollars? That would be nutso, right? Right. And it recently happened to “a lucky, unnamed Sotheby’s client.”
“I spotted this masterpiece hanging in the kitchen covered in letters, postcards, and bills,” O’Leary said in a statement. “It was a hugely exciting find even before I learned of its political significance.” [Art News]
The “masterpiece” is a painting by South African artist Irma Stern called Arab in Black and it was reportedly donated to “an auction to raise money for Mandela’s legal fees, … At the time, Mandela was charged with high treason following his arrest in 1955 and would have faced the death penalty if he was found guilty (he was not) Regardless [it’s being called] the painting that saved Mandela’s life.” The piece was sold at the auction and the buyer, who settled in the U.K., gave it to the current owner who had no idea of its value or significance.