It was, wrote Chicago Now, website of the Chicago Tribune, 'The greatest flea market find'.
Painting bought for $4 contains million-dollar document was the headline on Art Info, website for the respected New York magazine Art & Auction.
Five online newspapers, not to mention more than 2000 blogs, carried the story last week of a remarkable discovery – an original 1776 Dunlap printing of the Declaration of Independence found in the back of a picture bought for $4 at a market in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.
The document was one of just 24 known to exist. A Sotheby’s executive, who called it “the most important single printed page in the world, in the most spectacularly beautiful condition”, believed it could fetch between $800,000 and $1.2m when sold ‘next June’.
But didn’t all this sound just a little familiar? Momentary wonder quickly turned to scepticism at the similarity of this story, posted on August 31, 2009 and a tale often recounted when talk turns to legendary finds of recent decades.
In fact, those who bothered to check the original source of the story will have found the pages of The Philadelphia Inquirer. The full article included the lines: “To mark the 180th anniversary of its founding, The Inquirer has reprinted an article from its archives every Monday for 18 weeks. Today’s offering was originally published April 3, 1991.”
Lightning had not struck twice.
For those who don’t know how the story ends, the flea market discovery (there are many in the trade who question the convenience of the story) did indeed appear for sale at Sotheby’s – in June 1991 – when it sold for $2.42m.
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