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Valuable David Bowie painting bought for $5 in South River donated goods shop

'The consignor of the painting was astonished upon viewing a label which read 'David Bowie' and realizing it was the signature of the artist inscribed on the reverse'

It's every bargain hunter's dream...paying next to nothing but scoring big time.

That surprising discovery happened last summer in South River, as a painting by deceased music superstar David Bowie was found in a thrift store for household goods. It's now up for auction.

The buyer picked up the treasure, left in a pile of discarded goods,  for just $5. The painting is valued at up to $12,000 and is up for auction at Cowley Abbott’s International Art Online Auction from June 15-24.

The painting is titled, D Head XLVI and is a small 9.75 x 8 ins (24.8 x 20.3 cm) acrylic and computer collage on canvas, dated 1997.

"The consignor of the painting was astonished upon viewing a label which read 'David Bowie' and realizing it was the signature of the artist inscribed on the reverse," says Andrea McLoughlinCowley Abbott spokeswoman. The painting’s female owner has not been identified.

After conducting thorough research, which included correspondence with a David Bowie art and signature specialist in the United Kingdom, Cowley Abbott was able to confirm that the painting is indeed by the famous artist and part of a series that he completed in the 1990s.

"Many people may not know that Bowie enjoyed painting, and between 1994 and 1997 he created a series of approximately 45 works on canvas which he titled Dead Heads (or D Heads), each with a different non-sequential Roman numeral.," explains McLoughlin. "The sitters ranged from band members, friends, and acquaintances and there were also some self-portraits. It has been suggested that, for some of these important paintings, Bowie drew inspiration from the Ziggy Stardust era. With long hair and a pronounced profile, this energetic and enigmatic portrait is truly a rare representation from a celebrated artist."

Paintings by the late music icon are rarely seen at auction, with the most recent sale of artwork from the D Head series fetching $32,000 USD ($38,861CDN) at an auction in the United Kingdom in 2016.

Cowley Abbott will offer D Head XLVI in its upcoming Online Auction of International Art with an auction estimate value of $9,000 - $12,000.

The company is also bringing its Antiques Roadshow-inspired appraisal days – virtually – across Ontario in search of hidden gems that might be worth more than you think. The free virtual consultations happen throughout June and July if you are interested in learning more about an artwork you own and receive an auction valuation.

To set up a valuation you can RSVP for a virtual appointment at [email protected].

"With Ontario’s hot cottage real estate market, a generation of Canadian homeowners are downsizing or selling their cottages," adds McLoughlin. "Many have artworks that have been on the walls for years, passed down from parents and grandparents that they know nothing about, and no longer have the space to keep. Buying and selling art can be a daunting process with many unsure of where to start."

Other notable works that have recently come out of cottage country include the record-breaking sale of a painting by celebrated Canadian abstract artist Jack Bush from a home in Muskoka. The painting titled Column on Browns, sold at auction by Colwey Abbott for $870,000 – exceeding the previous artist record by $170,000 – in Dec 2020.

See the official video for Space Oddity by David Bowie, who died at 69 of liver cancer in 2016, below.


Jeff Turl

About the Author: Jeff Turl

Jeff is a veteran of the news biz. He's spent a lengthy career in TV, radio, print and online, covering both news and sports. He enjoys free time riding motorcycles and spoiling grandchildren.
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