PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The art world had no idea where it was – a painting that sold today for three-quarters of a million dollars.
It turns out, the Pittsburgh Public School District had it all along.
The painting was in Pam Capretta’s office in the Board of Education building in Oakland.
Capretta had always been a fan of the it but never knew that the painting, titled “Interior” by French impressionist Henri Le Sidaner was worth so much money.
Once she did know, “I almost fell off my chair,” said Capretta.
The district learned its value after some of its art pieces were appraised.
“It was out of circulation,” said Superintendent Dr. Linda Lane. “So I was told the family, the family of the artist, actually didn’t know where it was and was quite surprised to find out it was in the possession of Pittsburgh Public Schools all that time.”
Dr. Lane says a group called Friends of Art has been donating pieces to the district for nearly 100 years. “Interior” was given to them in the 1930s.
Once they realized the value, they knew it was too expensive to display in a school.
So the painting was auctioned off at Sotheby’s in New York City. Employees gathered to watch a live video feed of the auction and cheered as the price kept going up, according to Dr. Lane.
It sold for a “hammer price” of $750,000. Several hundred thousand more than they expected.
Capretta says she misses seeing the painting on her office wall.
Under an agreement with Friends of Art, the money will be used to care for and maintain the rest of the art collection.
The district now has nearly 500 donated pieces.
Some are on display at schools, and others go out to art teachers to use during instruction.