A Glendale woman and her husband were shopping at a yard sale when they came across a picture of a horse. They bought the picture, intending just to use the frame, when the husband had a feeling something wasn’t right.
“He says, ‘I just have this gut feeling that there’s something behind that,’” Pam Dwyer said.
Her husband’s hunch was correct. When the couple removed the picture from the frame, they found a pencil portrait of John F. Kennedy from 1961.
“I was just in awe of the detail, and the likeness, and that it was an original,” Dwyer said.
She researched the artists, Carmelo Soraci, and discovered that he was an infamous forger who had been incarcerated. While in jail, he unleashed his hidden talent.
“He was best known for the stained glass artwork he created when he was in prison, actually,” Dwyer said.
Dwyer took the portrait to art appraiser Lisa Barnes, who told her since the artist didn’t have a history of sales, it would be difficult to give the portrait an exact appraisal.
“Someone like the Smithsonian would buy this because of the merit of how he captured and he depicted JFK,” Barnes said. Eventually, she priced the portrait at $2,500 to $5,000.
Dwyer said, “I’m happy with how much she was impressed by it.”
Dwyer only paid $5 for the painting at a flea market/garage sale, and was thrilled to learn she could make up to 100 times that amount.
“I’ll probably sell it,” she said. “You know we’ve been on hard times.”