david bowie painting ontario

Someone found a painting by David Bowie in an Ontario thrift store

A David Bowie painting that was found in an Ontario thrift store is expected to sell for around $10,000 at a Toronto auction house.

The painting, titled D Head XLVI, is part of a portrait series by the late singer. Bowie was not only one of the most iconic singers of the last half century, but he was also a painter as well as an art collector. He started painting in 1976 but had renewed interest in painting in the 1990s.

Between 1994 and 1997 Bowie created a series of approximately 45 works on canvas which he titled Dead Heads (or D Heads), Cowley Abbott Fine Art said in a press release.

"D Head XLVI was found in the most unexpected place: a donation centre for household goods in Northern Ontario, just south of North Bay," they said. "The chance discovery of this treasure within a pile of unwanted goods is quite remarkable."

david bowie painting ontario

The David Bowie painting D Head XLVI was found at a thrift store.

The person who found the painting was astonished to find a label on the back that read "David Bowie" and the artist's signature.

They found the painting in South River at a place called Machar Mall (a donation centre at the landfill) in June or July, Cowley says. He says they paid $5.

They contacted Cowley Abbott to authenticate it in November, he says. Cowley Abbott was able to confirm that the painting is indeed by the famous artist and part of the Dead Head series he completed in the 1990s.

"It is signed on the back and if you didn't know his signature you may not be able to identify that," Cowley says.

Cowley Abbott authenticated the painting with the help of Andy Peters, an expert in David Bowie's signature.

The painting is a portrait; Bowie had band members, friends and acquaintances sit for paintings. There were also some self-portraits. It is not clear who the subject of D Head XLVI is.

"With long hair and a pronounced profile, this energetic and enigmatic portrait is truly a rare representation from a celebrated artist," Cowley Abbott notes.

david bowie painting ontario

The back of the painting has a label, signature and framing date that established its provenance.

The painting is expected to fetch between $9,000 to $12,000, Cowley says.

Because Bowie is such a prominent musician, particularly in the 1960s and 70s, there will be interest from beyond those involved in the art market.

"It's very exciting – not only is it of interest in terms of visual arts but it is also a pop culture interest for collectors as well."

Valuable art occasionally gets dropped off at donation centres, Cowley says. Sometimes it is a family member clearing out a home or estate.

"I have been in the business for over 20 years now and we have run into this before where there have been artworks of value left," says Cowley.

Those interested in buying the painting can bid online between June 15 and 24 on Cowley Abbott’s Online Auction of International Art.

Photos by

Cowley Abbott Fine Art


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