Works of a previously unknown artist found in a small bungalow in Long Island have been recently estimated at $30 million. The paintings were discovered by Tom Schultz in 2006 after he had bought the cottage and a separate garage in Bellport as investment real estate for $300,000.
Schultz, a former gastronome and a father of three, was instructed by the previous owner of the property to get rid of certain paintings. However, Schultz looked through the collection of nearly 7,000 paintings, drawings, and magazines, and discovered that he couldn’t throw them out.
“This has been the work of someone’s life, and it shouldn’t be in the trash can”, said Schultz. The paintings belonged to a previously unknown Armenian-American artist Arthur Pinajian, a WWII veteran and a former caricaturist of comics.
Pinajian has lived with his sister in Bellport until his death in 1999. His friends remember him as a simple man who painted out of love for art. Nick Di Paolo, one of his friends working in a grocery shop, said, “I don’t believe that he has been selling his works. It didn’t seem like he cared about being recognized.”
The anonymity of the discovered collection’s author ended when Shultz introduced the works to historians and experts of art, including Peter Hastings Falk, who has once estimated the paintings found in the house of Andy Warhol.
Falk described the works of Pinajian as lyrical abstract landscapes. One art historian considered Pinajian a “brilliant colorist” who had demonstrated his “genius” with his works. The paintings of Pinajian have been showcased in New York and Los Angeles galleries shortly after being discovered and were estimated between $25 and $35 by some connoisseurs.
“In his diary, he wrote that he had always wanted to show his paintings in New York,” said Schultz, “We think that he now smiles looking at us from the heavens.”
Why did Schultz notice exceptional value in the unknown works while others considered them worthless? It’s because his late father taught him to appreciate the work that may have cost everything to its creator.
Site of the artist: pinajianart.com