A painting that's been gathering dust in a person's garage in Arizona might actually be a lost work by Jackson Pollock, valued at an estimated $10 million. Even more remarkable, the find happened totally by accident, after Josh Levine of Scottsdale, Arizona auction house, J. Levine Auction & Appraisal, got a call from someone in Sun City regarding a collection of Los Angeles Lakers memorabilia signed by Kobe Bryant. But what was also in the garage with the Lakers swag turned out to be much more significant, a "treasure chest of 20th-century modern art," which included not just the painting by Pollock but also additional works evidently from artists like Kenneth Noland, Jules Olitski, and Cora Kelley Ward.
In the process of authenticating the paintings – chief among them the one by Pollock – Levine spent more than $50,000 investigating how it ended up in a Sun City garage. Before you start entertaining fantasies of some multi-million dollar masterpiece hiding with some of your junk, you should know that there are only a few degrees of separation between the artist and the unnamed owner of the house. The first break in the case happened early, per Levine:
"As we went through the pieces, we saw that every single one of these artists were from the same social circle as Clement Greenberg."
Clement Greenberg was a famous New York art critic during Pollock's heyday, and was also friends with the homeowner's late sister, Jenifer Gordon, who was friends with Greenberg and was known to have received a Pollock from Greenberg sometime during her life. This piece of the puzzle came courtesy of yet another tangentially involved figure, an Australian artist named Barbara McKay, who told The Arizona Republic that she believed the painting to be the genuine article:
"I knew that Jenifer had a Pollock and, as confident as I could be, given that photographs are never as clear as seeing the painting in the flesh, that this is the original painting."
This, in addition to a forensics report that found the painting contains no components that were developed following Pollock's death in 1956, seems pretty convincing, especially to Levine, who says he's willing to put his "entire reputation" on the painting being real. Levine has reason to go out on this extremely secure limb, since he'll be the one to auction it off on June 20th, when he expects it to go for at least $10 million.