Unemployed Ohio man's luck changes after discovering signed Picasso print


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The Independent US

An unemployed US man was browsing at his local thrift store for items he could restore and resell when he spotted a Picasso poster. He handed over $14.14 for what he saw as a nice commercial print.

After a closer look at markings on it, he sold what's believed to be a signed Picasso print for $7,000.

"A pretty darn good return," said Zachary Bodish of Ohio with a chuckle. "Can't get that at the bank."

The private buyer wants to remain anonymous.

The 46-year-old Bodish said an online search led him to the print's history as a French exhibition advertisement. He began to look closely at some faded red writing on the print, which he originally thought were random pencil marks.

"It wasn't until I realized where the signature would be, and that those little red marks were right where the signature should be, that I got a stronger magnifying glass out and determined that 'Holy cow! It's really a Picasso,"' Bodish said.

Bodish said he consulted with art experts and met with a representative from Christie's auction house to authenticate the piece. A Christie's representative confirmed that Bodish met with a specialist, but the auction house said its policy is not to comment on items that aren't sold through it. In this case, Bodish decided to sell the print privately in April.

Lisa Florman, an associate history professor at Ohio State University, has written several essays and a book on Picasso. She examined the print only through photos but said it's very unlikely the piece is forged because the piece would sell for so low in the grand scheme of major art fraud.

She said she's examined many forged Picasso signatures in the past but felt confident about Bodish's print.

Florman said Picasso designed the print to advertise a 1958 exhibition of his ceramic work in Vallauris, France. There were 100 prints made for the exhibition, and Picasso signed them all.

But Florman said Bodish's print, which is marked as number six, is valuable for being in the artist's proof range. That means it's possibly one of only a handful he personally reviewed before they were mass produced.

Florman said Picasso signed so many prints, it's very plausible the piece ended up at a thrift store in the Midwest.

"It's kind of a fun story," she said. "There's nothing about it that seems fishy."

Ed Zettler, a retired English teacher, claims the print sat in his basement for years before he decided to donate it to the thrift store. Zettler has no hard feelings.

"I gave it away. Someone else found it. He fortunately saw more. It's his," Zettler said. "That's the risk you take when you bring something to the thrift store."

Bodish said he plans to use the money for day-to-day bills, including his mortgage, utilities, food and even more thrift store finds.

"It's just been a rough struggle to make ends meet," he said. "I may have been fated to find it."