If looking for bargains in thrift stores doesn’t appeal to you, the story of a New York thrifter’s purchase might change your mind. On her TikTok video, Nancy Cavaliere said that the Salvation Army Thrift Shop is on her way home from work, so goes thrifting every day.
She stopped into the shop on a hot summer day in 2017 and found four ceramic plates in the china section. They were selling for $1.99 a piece. The back of each plate read, “Edition Picasso” and had the Madoura Pottery mark. Cavaliere said that she Googled the plates while she was in the store and discovered that they were part of Picasso’s Visage Noir series, She paid the $4.00 and took the plates home.
Picasso discovered the Maduro Pottery workshop at a tumultuos time in his life; France had been liberated from the Nazis and his relationship with Françoise Gilot (the mother of Claude Picasso and Paloma Picasso) was coming to a bitter end.
In the summer of 1946, he traveled to Vallauris, on the French Riviera, and saw a pottery exhibit. He met Georges and Suzanne Ramié, owners of Madoura Pottery, who invited him to create some pieces at the workshop. Picasso spent the next twenty years working in a corner of the workshop that was set aside just for him.
Clay was not the only attraction at Madoura; it was there that Picasso met his second wife, Jacqueline Roque, who worked as a salesperson in the pottery’s store. The couple began living together in 1954, when she was aged 27 and he was 72. They married in 1961, and remained together until Picasso’s death in 1973. During their time together, Picasso painted more than 400 portraits of Roque.
When Cavaliere got home, she contacted several auctions houses in New York and was told that the plates were authentic and worth between $3,000 and $5,000. Three of the plates were auctioned off at Sotheby’s for about $12,000, $13,000, and $16,000 a total of $41,000 for a $4.00 investment.
She kept one of the plates; one that has Picasso’s signature en verso. She said that she will keep in in a safe deposit box for twenty years and sell it so that her daughter can have money in the future.
What is not known is who left the plates at the thrift store.
Rhea Nayyar. New York Thrifter Finds $8 Picassos at Salvation Army. Hyperallergic. May 16, 2023.
Artnet News. A Woman Bought Four Ceramic Plates at a Salvation Army for $8. They Turned Out to Be Original Picassos and Worth Over $40,000. May 17, 2023.
Artsper Magazine. Understanding Picasso’s Ceramics. April 27, 2022.