Two men found $30 million worth of art headed for the garbage when they bought a run-down investment house, getting a fortune for themselves and helping the now-deceased artist get the recognition he always craved.
The bungalow was purchased by Thomas Schultz and his friend Larry Joseph back in 2007. They had planned on renovating the property, but inside they found thousands of paintings and drawings from Armenian-American artist Arthur Pinajian, who died in 1999 at age 85.
Pinajian had lived in the home as a struggling artist, and told his family to throw away all of the artwork when he died. The family couldn’t bring themselves to throw away a lifetime of his work, but also had nowhere to put it. So the $30 million in artwork remained there, destined for the garbage, gathering dust and cobwebs.
Schultz and Joseph paid the owners of the home an extra $2,500 for the art found headed for the garbage, and they went to have it restored. The priceless artwork collection was vast and varied, including 3,000 paintings in all. There were some expressionist paintings, some images from 1960 Woodstock artist colonies, and illustrations from comic books from the 1930s.
“He (Pinajian) painted every day but no one saw his art,” art appraiser Peter Hastings Folk told The Armenian Weekly. “He received no reviews and not one of his paintings or works on paper ever was shown in a New York gallery or museum.”
Stung by the rejection of the art world, Pinajian relied on his sister for financial support.
It turns out the $2,500 was well worth the investment, and Arthur Pinajian is finally getting the attention he sought his whole life. After the men found the artwork in the garbage, it was appraised at $30 million in total. Some of the abstract paintings are on display in New York and being sold for $87,000 each.