Mechanic harvests art bonanza from Connecticut dumpster

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WATERBURY, Conn. (AP) — A treasure trove of paintings and other artwork found in an abandoned barn has been found to be worth millions.

Tipped off by a contractor, Waterbury auto mechanic Jared Whipple salvaged the dirt-covered parts in 2017 from a dumpster containing materials from a barn in Watertown. Whipple later discovered they were by Francis Hines, an Abstract Expressionist who died in 2016 at age 96 and who had kept his work stored in the barn, Hearst Connecticut Media Group reported.

Hines was renowned for his “wrapping” pieces, in which fabric is wrapped around an object. His art has been compared to that of Christo and Jeanne-Claude, who became famous for wrapping installations across Europe, including the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

Hines has wrapped more than 10 buildings in New York, including Washington Square Arch, JFK Airport and the Port Authority Bus Terminal, art curator and historian Peter Hastings Falk told the outlet.

The hundreds of works of art recovered by Whipple included paintings, sculptures and small drawings. Hastings Falk estimated that the “wrapped” paintings could sell for around $22,000 each and his drawings for around $4,500.

Whipple showed some of the pieces at a gallery in Waterbury last year and recently decided to sell some of the art. He is collaborating with Hollis Taggart, a New York-based gallery, on exhibitions in New York and Connecticut starting next month.

Since finding the treasure, Whipple has researched Hines’ work and contacted the artist’s family, who he said allowed him to keep and sell the art.

“I pulled it out of that dumpster and fell in love with it,” Whipple told the outlet. “I made a connection with him. My goal is to put Hines in the history books.”

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