Surprise: Man Discovers Family Heirloom Is Worth $800,000

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) – The Birmingham Museum of Art has never had a Frederic Remington painting in their collection, until now. For years the museum has only featured Remington’s drawings and sculptures.

“A Remington painting has always eluded us. Now we can show every aspect of Remington as an artist, which is very exciting,” said chief curator Graham Boettcher.

According to our sister station WIAT, the painting is on loan to the art museum from Birmingham’s Ty Dodge. Dodge discovered the true monetary value of the family heirloom at a 2014 taping of “Antiques Roadshow” in Birmingham.

The portrait of Dodge’s great grandfather, Lea Febiger, has been hanging in his family’s home since 1938. Dodge says he is looking forward to seeing it in the museum where it can be kept safe.

Febiger was a friend of Remington’s and posed for this painting as part of a series on army officers. After the piece was finished in 1896, Remington wrote a letter to the Febiger family suggesting they “get together soon for a drink.”

The painting was appraised in the 1960’s for $7,500. Today the painting, along with the letter, is worth much more.

“My appraiser on the roadshow asked me, ‘How much do you think it is worth?’ And I said, ‘Well, I don’t know, $15,000?’ And she said, ‘Well that, plus the letter, would be between $600,000 and $800,000.’ And I think because I’m not a very reactive guy, I didn’t react very much and I think that put her off a bit,” Dodge explained.

“When we heard about the Remington, we were just floored. This is obviously one of the great painters of America. The fact that we have such a treasure right here in Alabama was really wonderful to discover,” said Mike McKenzie with Alabama Public Television.

Because the painting is so highly valued, Dodge says he is thankful it will be kept safe at the Birmingham Museum of Art — a place where thousands of people can enjoy it.

Dodge and his Remington painting are set to be featured on “Antiques Roadshow” Monday at 7:00 p.m. on Alabama Public Television.

The painting will go on display at the Birmingham Museum of Art in a few months after minor conservation efforts are completed.

Copyright 2015 WIAT 42 News

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