A sterling silver sculpture commissioned by Tiffany & Co., discovered on a Philadelphia market rummage table, is the latest in a string of priceless flea market finds. The discoverer, who wishes to remain anonymous, purchased the abstract sculpture for $200 without any knowledge of the piece’s backstory. He uncovered the initials “UV” while polishing the piece, which he suspected were a maker’s mark. An assessment by the Freeman’s Auctioneers in Philadelphia determined that it was solid sterling silver and not plate, but it wasn’t until the original artist’s son, architect and designer Charles O. Perry, contacted the auction house that the piece was officially identified as the work of Ubaldo Vitali, a renowned 20th century silversmith. The sculpture is one of six specimens of the design, the others of which are much larger in scale and of steel fabrication. These sibling sculptures are on display in galleries in Ringwood, Australia, East Moline, IL and three other private collections around the world.
The Vitali piece was put up for auction at a Freeman Auction on Tuesday before a standing-room only crowd and sold for $22,500.