Mechanic Finds Dumpster Filled With Canvases, Turns Out To Be Worth Millions

Ashley Hunte
Several landscape paintings set on easels in a room with large, exposed wood beams.
Unsplash | Raychan

It's not every day that you find a rare gem in an unexpected place. And it's definitely not every day that you find a whole art collection valued at millions of dollars.

But for some, that seemingly impossible discovery is their reality. It's certainly the case for a Connecticut man who found a priceless art collection. In a dumpster, of all places.

Back in 2017, some art was discovered in a dumpster in Watertown, CT.

The contractor who found it contacted a friend, a car mechanic named Jared Whipple, thinking he might like the pieces. But little did Whipple know, he was about to enter the art world in an unexpected way.

After four years of research, Whipple finally figured out whose paintings these were.

They were painted by Francis Hines, an artist based in New York and Connecticut, who had died a year prior to the discovery of the paintings, in 2016. The barn that originally housed the paintings actually belonged to Hines before his death.

Originally, Whipple wanted to hang the art in an indoor skatepark.

Several people standing around and using a skatepark.
Unsplash | Robson Hatsukami Morgan

He quickly changed his mind, though, and decided to try and get in contact with people from the art world, which proved difficult.

"I've always been a mechanic and I'm known in the skateboarding world but not in the art world. So trying to get people to even open your emails and take you seriously was a huge challenge," he told CT Insider.

He eventually lucked out and came into contact with Muldoon Elger.

People standing around and looking at art in a large room with floor-to-ceiling windows.
Unsplash | Markus Spiske

A retired art dealer, Elger had been in charge of exhibits that featured Hines' artwork in the past. From there, he got Whipple into contact with Peter Hastings Falk.

Hastings Falk gave Whipple an estimation of the collection.

Hines' art collection, which included paintings drawings, and sculptures, is estimated to be worth millions of dollars! Hastings Falk estimated the paintings are valued at around $22,000, while the drawings are around $4,500.

And luckily, they were all in perfect condition.

The letters in "perfect" contracting inward toward one another, surrounded by drawings of stars.
Giphy | Mailchimp

When Whipple first looked at the pieces in the dumpster in 2017, they had been found among mold and dirt. But luckily, they were all covered in plastic, which helped preserve them from any damage.

Of course, Whipple is putting some of that art for sale.

A pair of hands holding several USD $100 bills.
Unsplash | Alexander Mils

Though, he isn't just in it for the money. By displaying and offering around 35-40 works for sale this coming May and June, he hopes to bring awareness to Hines, who seems to be somewhat of a forgotten artist.

Especially with regards to his "wrapped" paintings.

Wrapping is a technique in the art world where fabric is tightly wound around things. Hines used the technique both in his paintings, and with real buildings around New York in the late '70s and early '80s.

In fact, Hines should be considered a prominent artist in the New York art scene.

A person looking at a wall full of paintings.
Unsplash | Zalfa Imani

Through some of his art selling for high prices, as well as the upcoming exhibition, Whipple hopes to legitimize Hines' name and cement his place in American art history.

At the end of the day, though, it's for the love of art.

Through Whipple's research, he's found and come into contact with Hines' family, who have allowed him to keep and/or sell the artworks. But Whipple is going to keep some of them for himself, since the works resonate with him so much.

"I pulled it out of this dumpster and I fell in love with it," he told CT Insider. "I made a connection with it."

h/t CT Insider