‘A Gift From The Thrifting Gods’: Goodwill Vase Bought For $3.99 Sells For More Than $100,000

Published December 19, 2023
Updated December 20, 2023

The colorful green and white vase purchased at a Virginia Goodwill turned out to be a rare piece by Italian artist Carlo Scarpa.

Jessica Vincent And The Vase

Jessica VincentThis vase is in excellent condition, though its path to Goodwill is something of a mystery.

When Jessica Vincent went to her local Goodwill store in Hanover County, Virginia, last June, a striking red and green vase caught her eye. Though her partner asked her, “Why are you buying that bottle?” Vincent decided to fork over $3.99 for the vase and take it home. She soon discovered it was a rare object — and worth much more than four dollars.

As Vincent soon discovered, the vase was actually a rare piece by Italian architect Carlo Scarpa. It just sold for $107,100 at auction.

“You never know what you’re going to find,” Vincent noted to The New York Times. “It’s the thrill of the hunt.”

Incredibly, Vincent almost didn’t pick up the vase at all. As she perused the items at Goodwill back in June, Vincent felt “uninspired” and only decided to buy the vase during her second loop of the store.

“I circled back because I wanted to go check that vase out — and it was still there,” Vincent explained to the Washington Post. “I knew that day it was coming home with me. I said, ‘Even if it’s $8.99, I’m bringing it home,’ which is expensive, in my mind.”

Vincent liked the look of the vase, and she was curious about an “M” stamp on its base. It made her wonder if the vase came from Murano, an Italian island near Venice renowned for its glassware. Eager to learn more, she posted about the vase in a Facebook group about Murano glass, where commentators soon suggested that it could be the work of Carlo Scarpa.

Carlo Scarpa's Vase

Rago/WrightJessica Vincent was intrigued by an “M” stamp on the bottom of the vase.

Following advice from Facebook, Vincent then reached out to Wright Auction House, where Richard Wright, the auction house president, responded right away to set up a phone call.

“I was like, ‘Oh my God, look at this thing!'” Wright told the Washington Post. “She hadn’t even told me that she had gotten it from a thrift store, but I could tell she was authentic. As a result, I felt very confident the piece was real.”

Wright sent glass specialists to Virginia to examine the piece, who confirmed what he’d suspected — it was the work of Carlo Scarpa, and certainly worth more than $3.99. Not only was the vase from Scarpa’s 1940s “Pennellate” series, but it was in remarkably good condition.

“If it had a chip — even a small chip — it would have probably sold for under $10,000,” he told The New York Times. “This was like a winning lottery ticket.”

Pennellate Vase

Christie’sAnother example of one of Carlos Scarpa’s “Pennellate” vases, which he designed in the 1940s.

Though it’s unclear how the vase made its way to Goodwill — a spokesperson said that they were “surprised, shocked and happy” by the find — it’s certain that the discovery has changed Jessica Vincent’s life for the better. After it sold to an anonymous buyer in Europe, $83,500 went to Vincent and roughly $23,600 went to Wright Auction House.

“This is really going to help me so much. It just felt like the universe was conspiring to help me get down the road a little bit further,” Vincent said.

As The New York Times reports, Vincent and her partner train polo horses. She recently purchased a 1930s farmhouse, and plans to use the windfall to upgrade the heating system, install a dishwasher, and add fencing.

Her story — and others like it — go to show that you never know what you might find at a thrift store. In the past few years, others have made similarly lucrative finds, including a vase that turned out to be a rare Japanese antique, art that turned out to be a Salvador Dalí woodcut, and more.

“Knowing that Jessica went into this Goodwill in Virginia and saw this glass vase sitting in a thrift store undamaged is unbelievable,” Wright remarked. “This was a gift from the thrifting gods.”

After reading about the vase bought at a Goodwill for $3.99 that just sold for more than $100,000, see how a first-class menu from the RMS Titanic sold for $100,000 after it was found in the collection of a local Nova Scotia historian. Or, see how a rare copy of the Constitution sold for more than $40 million.

Kaleena Fraga
A staff writer for All That's Interesting, Kaleena Fraga has also had her work featured in The Washington Post and Gastro Obscura, and she published a book on the Seattle food scene for the Eat Like A Local series. She graduated from Oberlin College, where she earned a dual degree in American History and French.
Jaclyn Anglis
Jaclyn is the senior managing editor at All That's Interesting. She holds a Master's degree in journalism from the City University of New York and a Bachelor's degree in English writing and history (double major) from DePauw University. She is interested in American history, true crime, modern history, pop culture, and science.