The thrilling and tumultuous saga of the Maud Lewis painting found in a thrift shop donation bin has come to a successful end. The online auction for “Portrait of Eddie Barnes and Ed Murphy, Lobster Fisherman, Bay View, Nova Scotia” concluded today with the winning bid reaching $45,000. The proceeds from the auction will support the relief, development, and peace work of Mennonite Central Committee.
The painting was first discovered over a year ago by Louis Silcox, a volunteer at the New Hamburg Thrift Centre, a Mennonite Central Committee Thrift Shop who suspected the painting might be genuine. After the painting was authenticated, Mennonite Central Committee put it up for auction. An opportunity arose to partner with a local cinema for a special advanced screening of the highly-acclaimed bio-pic, Maudie, starring Sally Hawkins and Ethan Hawke, which proved a perfect setting to launch the auction. The film depicted the humble life of Lewis and her husband, selling her paintings on the roadside for $2 to tourists passing by. Despite her abject poverty and debilitated by acute chronic arthritis since childhood, her strong spirit has lifted her legacy and art well beyond her lifetime.
Despite a false-start with the initial online auction, the re-started auction saw the painting sell for more than three times its assessed value and more than double the price of the previous highest price of a Maud Lewis painting.
“We are thrilled with the selling price and it’s poetic that the art of a Canadian artist who lived in poverty will be going toward helping others in need,” says Rick Cober Bauman, Executive Director of MCC Ontario.