An Artist's Work Sold for Hundreds — Then She Bought It Back for $6 at Goodwill

Jamie Bichelman - Author

Feb. 2 2024, Published 2:57 p.m. ET

In Kurt Vonnegut's A Man Without a Country, he teaches that making art is a means through which our souls grow. The nature of being an artist necessitates parting with a slice of one's being each time they release their art into the universe; rarely, if ever, will that piece of art — or soul — return to the artist.

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For one artist, however, a creation found its way back to her. Beth S. Zamarripa posted a photo of her artwork to a Facebook group after rediscovering the prize-winning piece at her local Goodwill. As one commenter put it, "it came home."

Here's what we know about the weird and wonderful story of Zamarripa's art.

A Goodwill Industries sign in Moscow, Idaho.
Source: Getty Images
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An artist found a piece of art she made at a Goodwill.

According to Zamarripa's post to the Weird (and Wonderful) Secondhand Finds That Just Need To Be Shared group on Facebook, the acclaimed art piece was quite the unexpected find at her local Goodwill based on its origin story.

"This just happened today," the post began. "This is a collage I made. It was accepted into a national juried art exhibition. It was sold off the wall during the exhibition for a few hundred dollars."

A juried art exhibition is one in which talented artists compete for a limited number of spaces to show off their work, according to Artists Network.

Thus, Zamarripa's work was judged to be exceptional in relation to a field of other artists. That the piece found its way back to her after selling for hundreds of dollars at exhibition is remarkable.

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Zamarripa then bought the piece for $6.

As Zamarripa explained further in her Facebook post, it was a surprising turn of events to discover the same artwork several years after its original sale at exhibition.

She added: "So today, years and years later I bought it back at my local Goodwill for $6. Mine. Life is surprising!"

Reunited with her art, Zamarripa's story resonated with thousands who found the Facebook post, many of whom shared their own stories of unexpectedly coming into contact with their own art that they had likewise parted with in the past.

Additional comments included tales of miraculous Goodwill finds as well as artists sharing their opinions on the prospect of finding their artwork at a thrift store.

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"Many years ago my sister made a pottery piece," one user commented. "She was not happy with it, and donated it to the SPCA thrift shop. A year or two later we were at a community theater production of God's Favorite (a modern retelling of the story of Job). And there, on the hearth of the mansion was...her ceramic vase!"

Another commenter summed up the amazing story succinctly: "It was on a quest to return to you."

It appears that Zamarripa is a savvy thrifter with a keen eye for objects that can be turned into artistic pieces. A typewriter she found at Goodwill was another successful project. As she wrote in another post, she buys "a lot of things at Goodwill and turn them into other things."

In a post about the typewriter, to which she added spikes on the keys, she explained the deeper meaning: "It's about censorship. If the keys have spikes you can't use it to type anything without pain."

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