Anonymous Donor Drops Off $11K In African Artifacts At Goodwill

Nov 20, 2013

A Salvador Dali etching. A $10,000 dollar painting from American realist John Englehart. And earlier this month, antique artifacts from tribal ceremonies throughout Africa, worth $11,000.

All these dropped off at Goodwill stores in Washington state, some left by anonymous donors apparently unaware of their value.

Dylan Lippert, who oversees online sales appraiser at the Goodwill in Tacoma, said Goodwill never met with the person who dropped off the Salvador Dali print last year.

“We don’t know if they knew the value of the art. We would assume not because they just left it with one of our retail stores with nothing special,” he said.

The print sold at auction for $21,000. The Englehart painting sold a few months ago for $10,000.

But in that case, the donor knew the painting’s worth. He chose Goodwill because they have a program for valuing goods and getting them sold at the right price.

That’s because Goodwill’s own online bidding store has evolved over the years. Lippert said that the Goodwills in Portland, Ore., Tacoma and Seattle -- which has been selling online for the last decade -- are some of the top-tier online sellers. In addition to online sales, there are some nicer Goodwill “boutiques,” where only high-end fashion items are sold.

The Tacoma Goodwill is currently conducting the online sale of the African artifacts, which come from all over Africa, including from tribes in Cameroon, Mozambique, the Congo and Mali. They were dropped off at a Goodwill store in Port Townsend. These were not items made for tourists but rather used in daily life.

Lippert said he’s seen a range of donated items, but the artifacts stand out.

“The very first box I opened was one of the masks staring right back at me and it was a little unsettling,” he said. “But then when you look at the craftsmanship and the wear from the years and just try and piece together in your own mind the story of where this item has been, how it got to western Washington, and then how it found its way to Goodwill – that’s where they become very interesting.”

Produced for the Web by Isolde Raftery.