On a June afternoon in Brookneal, Virginia, Jessica Vincent decided to peek inside a local thrift shop to kill some time, a hobby of hers. While browsing through the aisles, her eyes were drawn to a green and red vase, and she knew she had to have it.
What she didn’t know was that the purchase would change her life.
Jessica Vincent bought a vase at a Virginia thrift store in June for $3.99. The vase — which turned out to be part of a series that Carlo Scarpa, a renowned Italian architect, designed in the 1940s — just sold at auction for $107,100.https://t.co/Nr1kJNknXT pic.twitter.com/rweMMe7GJa
— John McCarthy (@EducatedGuest93) December 18, 2023
Southern Living reports:
“I saw that it was a solid piece of glass and that it was heavy, not junk,” Vincent told Elle Decor of the 13-inch vase wrapped in burgundy and green brushstrokes. On the bottom she noticed the etching of a single word: Murano.
“I’m not a glass expert, but once I saw the Murano marking, I knew I wanted to buy it,” Vincent, who raises polo horses, recalled in a statement to Southern Living. “When we got to the checkout, it was $3.99—I had been prepared to pay $8 or $9 for it, so I was super excited at the price.”
Vincent began researching the vase the moment she got home. She shared a photo of it in a Murano glass Facebook group where “everyone was excited by it.”
With help from the Facebook group, Vincent was able to identify the vase as a super-rare piece by famed Venetian architect Carlo Scarpa. The 1940s vase is part of the “Pennellate” series he designed for Venini, a glass workshop on Murano. Pennellate means “brush strokes” in Italian.
Although someone in the Facebook group offered $100,000 for the piece, Jessica contacted the Wright auction house in New York City.
“Never in 35 years have we had a piece like this in our hands,” Sara Blumberg, Wright’s glass specialist told Elle Decor. “Which is really kind of an amazing thing to say, because, as curators of the sales, we have handled thousands of pieces of glass”
“Scarpa,” the outlet explains, “is best known for his playful-yet-rigorous buildings and interiors, which include the Castelvecchio museum in Verona, Italy, and an interior for an Olivetti typewriter store in Venice. But, at the age of 21, Scarpa also began experimenting with glass. In 1932, he was invited to collaborate with Venini, where he served as the design director until 1946.”
“He made series after series in his brief tenure there,” Blumberg said. “It’s experimental, beautiful, and conceptually very advanced glass. What really makes [this vase] so rare is that so few of these were produced.”