Woman pays $7 at flea market for Renoir masterpiece worth thousands

ALEXANDRIA, Virginia -- A woman digging for treasure at a flea market in Alexandria, Virginia forked out a tiny amount of money for something that turned out to be worth a fortune.

The woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, discovered a 1879 Renoir masterpiece at a West Virginia flea market two years ago.

"A Paysages au Borde de la Seine, which means a landscape on the banks of the River Seine," the woman said.

The woman said she bid for a box of items that included the piece of art.

"I noticed the frame on this picture and I liked the frame. I bid $7 and I won the box," the woman said.

The woman put the painting in a plastic bag and stored it in her shed. Then, it was moved to her kitchen and then to the back of her car.

A year later, the woman was about to take the painting out of its frame when her mother spotted the name "Renoir" on the edging, along with a French gallery label and a stock number. Her mom suggested the woman take the painting in to be evaluated.

Experts at the Potomack Company Auction House authenticated the piece -- estimating it to be worth between $75,000 and $100,000 at auction.

The notion of this kind of discovery -- a Renoir masterpiece in a West Virginia flea market has the art world talking. The auction house has received calls from around the world because the painting was last heard about in 1926.

"I'm living proof you don't know what could be in a box. You know, one man's trash is another man's treasure," the woman said.

The painting will go up for public auction September 29th. The woman has said she's going to take the proceeds from the sale and go on a trip to Paris.