He’d bought the painting for four dollars, seeing it as a steal since its frame alone was more than double that price. He quickly took it home, waiting to replace the painting inside with one of his own.
His fingers delicately slipped the painting out of the frame. And that’s when he saw it. He didn’t know what it was at first, but after further investigation, he almost fell back at what was staring at him.
Kevin was a painter from Scranton, Philadelphia. An entrepreneur at heart, Kevin, who was twenty-seven at the time, made his living from selling his work.
Kevin framed his paintings in some of the most ornate frames he could find. Although the tactic was a bit time-consuming, it ensured he got paid well. What he’d find while looking for a frame would change his life forever.
On the week Kevin found his big breakthrough, he’d been searching for a golden frame from his latest work. He’d scoured the best parts of Scranton only to come up short.
Having heard great things about a flea market in Adamstown, Kevin decided to visit, hoping he’d find what he was looking for. Little did he know what was waiting for him there.
Kevin reached the flea market in Adamstown in the afternoon. He quickly looked around before finding a great stall that dealt in secondhand paintings and frames.
Kevin didn’t look around for long when his eyes landed on a massive painting of a countryside vista. The painting itself didn’t strike him as masterful, but its frame was everything he’d been searching for. Would the seller agree to part with it?
Kevin threw his buying price into the bargaining ring. After a lengthy back and forth with the seller, he walked away with the painting and frame for four dollars.
The drive back to Scranton was faster than Kevin predicted. He got home and put some chili in the microwave before falling on painting to claim its frame. And that’s when he saw it.
The painting was fixed to the frame by several aluminum hangers, which Kevin quickly removed. He flexed his fingers and gently began sliding the painting out of the frame.
But as he was transferring the metallic structure to his work table, a large piece of folded paper fell out. Not paying much attention, Kevin walked over it. He was walking to the kitchen for his chili when the paper caught his attention. What was it?
Kevin decided to forgo the chili and tend to the paper instead. Had the painting’s last owner hidden some random letter in its frame, or was this something more sinister?
He picked up the paper in question, immediately noticing that it was old. Kevin unfolded the paper, surprised at how big it was. He skimmed through it, stumbling when he realized what he was holding.
“A copy of the Declaration of Independence,” Kevin mumbled. He knew what he held wasn’t the original piece since that was in the National Archives Museum. But why was his blood bubbling with excitement?
He hurried over to his desk, pushing away the frame and gently placing the declaration down. He was about to brush it off as a regular copy when he decided to have an appraiser look at it. The appraiser’s answer would leave him speechless.
Kevin had spent the better part of the week finding an appraiser who could look at the document at an affordable price. One of his friends connected him to a reputable appraiser who agreed to give it a look.
She called a few weeks later. Her voice was full of excitement. “You won’t believe what I’m about to tell you,” she said. By now, Kevin had almost forgotten about the declaration. But the appraiser’s tone charged his anticipation back to life.
“What you have here is a rare original Dunlap broadside copy,” the appraiser said. “One of 500 official copies from the first printing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776.”
She moved ahead to explain everything to Kevin, telling him how only twenty-three copies had been found. But if it was a copy of the original, why was she almost out of breath?
“Out of the twenty-three that exist, only two are privately owned,” shared the appraiser. “Your find is so rare that I’m estimating its price between eight hundred thousand dollars and one million.”
Kevin’s mind almost imploded, and he had to ask the appraiser to repeat her statement. She assured him that several private collectors would pay top dollar for the declaration. What were his thoughts on the matter?
Kevin met the appraiser in the city, and they started looking for people who’d be interested in the declaration. Luckily, the appraiser had already lined up a few prospective buyers.
After a few dinners with them, she and Kevin knew who among them had their best interests at heart. As they prepared to make the sale, Kevin pondered his luck, wondering what he’d do with the money from the sale.
Kevin and the appraiser met the private collector. The man was a pleasant fellow who offered a ride on his yacht as the three discussed the price of the declaration.
Kevin and the collector shook hands at the end of the evening, with all concerned parties agreeing on a $1.2 million price tag. The price was more than two hundred thousand of all other collectors’ offers. But the good news didn’t stop there.
The private collector had sat and listened to Kevin’s story. He asked to see his best work on learning that he was a painter. Maybe they could arrange something.
Kevin didn’t hesitate to pull out his phone and present his paintings. He also gave a detailed rundown of all the art styles he loved painting in and was surprised to see how interested the collector was. Was he going to buy some of the paintings?
The collector didn’t buy any of Kevin’s paintings. But what he did was far much better. He offered to sponsor Kevin’s work, to help him hone his art and spread it through all the essential channels.
As an art connoisseur, the collector was taken aback by Kevin’s art style, terming it as a new take on realism. He’d be honored to introduce Kevin to like-minded individuals.