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She bought a painting for $32 at Arizona Goodwill; Antiques Roadshow said it's worth a lot more

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Posted at 11:24 AM, May 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-13 14:24:36-04

PHOENIX — An unexpected discovery at a Phoenix Goodwill led to a viral moment, a chance to be on Antiques Roadshow and further proved a woman’s knack for spotting valuable art as a thrifter.

While waiting to pick up her kids from school one day, Phoenix interior designer Grace Carpenter chose to kill some time at a Goodwill.

Of all the used things the original owners didn't want, an oil painting of a woman holding a black and white cat caught her eye - mostly because of the cat.

“The cat looks like my cat,” said Carpenter.

So, with a 20% off coupon, she brought the painting home to show her family, her cat Max, and soon to be millions of others.

Carpenter said her kids had a normal reaction of thinking the woman looked “creepy and weird.”

She took her $32 Goodwill find home and soon realized the signature on it looked familiar. So she posted about it on TikTok asking art enthusiasts if it was an original.

"The darn TikTok blew up," she said.

That post went viral with over 1.5 million views and Carpenter added thousands of new followers interested in her journey with her newest Goodwill find.

This is where the story takes a wild turn.

One of the 1.5 million viewers who saw her TikTok about the painting was a woman from Tennessee wanting to give her a ticket to "Antiques Roadshow," a PBS program Carpenter said she’s been watching since she was a little girl.

Carpenter already had plans to be in Memphis to help design a short-term rental.

So, with the Goodwill tag still on the frame of the painting, she was able to show it to an appraiser at the show in Tennessee.

They told her the signature was that of Charles Craig, an artist from the late 1800s known for oil paintings of Western lifestyle.

The appraiser told her the painting is an original, however, the appraiser said the cat, the reason she bought the painting in the first place, was added on later.

"It can't be on the show because it's not 100% original but if it was in his gallery, he wouldn't let it out the door for less than $2,000,” said Carpenter in a follow-up TikTok video for her new followers, hungry for an update.

Carpenter said she's going to keep the painting, partially because it looks like her cat Max but mostly because of the story now attached to it.

It's apparent Carpenter has a knack for finding diamonds in the rough.

She said she found a watercolor painting at a small flea market while living in Amsterdam years ago. After a board of experts in Paris, France reviewed it, she said they learned it was an original Fernand Leger valued at $1 million.

Carpenter posted her journey in Tennessee with art she found in Phoenix.

“It was really validating, when you show up at Antiques Roadshow and you have something special and they know this is really fun and special, it means you’re on the right track,” she said.

This article was written by Jordan Bontke for KNXV.