Collectors know that successful thrifting is more than just luck. It also involves knowing makers, their work, and current trends. In May 2020, a 22-year-old college student in Illinois who also sells vintage items online, had all three of those skills in place — and it paid off. While shopping at his local Goodwill store, student Terrelle Brown recognized an ashtray made in 2002 by hot Japanese artist Yoshitomo Nara. In 2019, Nara’s “Knife Behind Back” (2000) set an auction record for his work at Sotheby’s Hong Kong, selling for about $25 million.
The ashtray, with a picture of a girl puffing on a cigarette, was in a locked glass cabinet in its original packaging. It was a 2002 original Nara piece titled “Too Young To Die.” Brown bought it for $10. After authenticating it by matching it with other ashtrays made by Nara at the time, Brown turned around and sold the ashtray for $2,860 on eBay.
The moral of the story? Keep reading Kovels and you’ll know what’s hot and what’s not. A little knowledge can turn into an impressive Goodwill discovery of your own.