PBS’s program Antiques Roadshow tours the country, appraising people’s personal treasures. Many folks find out that their treasured antiques are fakes and reproductions, or otherwise not worth much at all. Other folks are pleasantly surprised and sometimes even amazed to discover that some item they found in an attic or bought for a song at a tag sale is “highly collectible” and could now be sold with a heftier tag at auction.
The newest episode, #1507, presented appraisals made when the show visited Des Moines, Iowa, in August 2010.
This show contains an interview with a woman named Eunice, who was shocked to tears of joy when she discovered the value of her personal treasure. She presented quite a large marble and gilded bronze statue, of a clown playing a lute. She bought the statue in 1961 when she and her husband were in Paris on a business trip. She said that she had heard much about the Paris Flea Market that she opted to check it out in lieu of a visit to Versailles. She chose this statue as her souvenir, and paid $50 for the piece, signed by the artist, Chiparu. They must have had a good deal of trouble trying to carry this large heavy statue home from France to the States, and Eunice indeed also shared that her husband was a good bit irritated by the endeavor.
But it turns out that it was indeed worth their trouble to tote the statue, and little did they know as they did so, that they were transporting a rare and valuable work of art! Appraiser Eric Silver, who is the director of Lillian Nassau, LLC, explained that Chiparu statues are often faked and reproduced, but there are few authentic sculptures from this artist on the market, and very few of this large and impressive size.
The artist, Demetre Chiparu, was “one of the leading sculptors of the art deco period.” This large piece is made from mixed materials, gilded bronze and carved marble. Silver did not seem to be certain whether this piece was produced during the 1920’s or 1930’s. He did seem certain that Eunice’s treasure was indeed an authentic, very rare and very valuable. Because of the size, and the fact that the artist is hot with particular collectors currently, Silver estimated to Eunice that her $50 Paris Flea Market find, the Chiparu statue “Clown’s Dream” would probably fetch $100,000 at auction today.
Eunice couldn’t keep herself from crying happy tears to discover her Paris souvenir was worth so much. I was amazed to discover myself tearing up as well with her story! There was also a nice selection of other noteworthy collectibles on this show, including a large portfolio of choice window card movie posters from the early 30’s, and an anniversary gold watch complete with a box, advertisement, and portrait of the owner, which significantly increased the value of this antique. My husband was entertained watching the appraisal of a particularly loud and gaudy first edition Gibson Florentine 4 string banjo with a gold resonator and carvings on the back.
We hadn’t tuned into Antiques Roadshow before, but after catching this episode, we have our DVR set to record the series!