Anonymous art donation worth thousands to Franklin Habitat for Humanity ReStore will help provide affordable housing

NOW: Anonymous art donation worth thousands to Franklin Habitat for Humanity ReStore will help provide affordable housing

FRANKLIN, Wis. (CBS 58) -- One man's trash is another man's treasure -- and that's the case of one anonymous donor's generosity to the Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Franklin. 

Store manager Scott Schmid recalls getting a large donation of 14 containers filled with artwork last November. 

"It was a total of 200 to 300 pieces of artwork that we had to sift through," Schmid told CBS 58's Ellie Nakamoto-White. "With our small team, a lot of those items went up in storage for a while as we went through each donation bin."

A couple of months passed, and it wasn't until Schmid tripped over one of three pieces leaning up against the wall in an office.

"I said 'that's it.' I'm done with this," Schmid said.

After researching the artist, he showed the pieces to Hindman Auctions in Chicago. 

In February, the auction team confirmed that the works were worth an estimated value of between $25,000 to $35,000.

"We were totally unaware of what we had," Schmid said. "I couldn't get my heart to stop racing."

The artwork turned out to be a triptych from 1977 called Green Dominance, Blue Dominance, Red Dominance, by a British artist named Bridget Riley.

According to Hindman, Riley was celebrated for her 'Op Art' works.

“Like many of her paintings, this triptych creates an optical illusion that challenges the viewer’s sense of space and perspective,” said Monica Brown, Hindman Vice President of Prints & Multiples. “Its technical precision and attention to detail, with each stripe carefully aligned and printed with vibrant, complimentary colors, presents us with a powerful example of Riley’s contributions to the Op Art movement as well as her ongoing exploration of the ways in which art can shape our understanding of the world around us.”

Jake Brandt, the director of marketing and communications for the Milwaukee Habitat for Humanity, said the pieces are "the equivalent of one-week's sales at one of our stores selling hundreds of items."

"All of the proceeds that we're making here at the ReStore go directly to building safe, affordable homes for local families," Brandt said.

While every donation counts, employees said it's "very rare" to get something of this much value.

"The logistics of it just go to your head, like how do we turn this into housing as quickly as possible?" Schmid said. "That's what I love about this place. It's real, tangible change in Milwaukee."

Last year, the team built 20 houses. This year, their goal is to hit 30.

If Green Dominance, Blue Dominance, Red Dominance sells, it could cover about one-third of a construction home. 

The triptych will be auctioned off on April 20.

To view the set of three, click here

To donate to the ReStore, click here.

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