Trash to treasure: Professor finds priceless painting at Georgia thrift shop

A professor shopping at a thrift store in Georgia made an incredible find, uncovering an early work by an American artist.

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William Pugh, an assistant professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio, was shopping at a thrift store in Covington, Georgia, when he found a painting that he was drawn to, the university said in a news release. Pugh, who was with his wife, said he was drawn to the artwork’s biblical themes and bought the painting.

The piece of art was painted by Georgia artist Keith Bankston, which Pugh discovered after noting the clear signature in blue in the painting’s lower right-hand corner. The painting, titled, “Eve in the Rose Garden,” is from 1982, the San Antonio Express-News reported.

Pugh researched the artist after returning home and was able to learn more about Bankston, whose life was cut short by AIDS in 1992. As part of his research, Pugh found that the Tubman African American Museum in Macon had multiple Bankston paintings as part of its collection, UTSA said in a news release.

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Pugh donated the painting, which he had purchased from the thrift store for $125, to the museum, UPI reported. The museum is currently working to determine the painting’s value.

“Even if it’s worth substantially more, I’ve always had the inclination that I wanted to donate it,” Pugh said in a statement. “The Tubman museum in Macon is the perfect place for it.”

UTSA officials said in their news release that the painting arrived at the museum on July 20, and would be added to the gallery’s permanent collection of African American art.

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