MANATEE -- Maureen Flaherty had never auctioned anything on eBay but her $43.50 Goodwill find brought a winning bid of $5,150 this month.
Flaherty, a Lakewood Ranch resident and animal lover, snapped up a 39 1/2-by-29 1/2-inch color portrait of a dog at the opening of the new Ranch Lake Goodwill, 8750 S.R. 70 E.
Jess Sturtevant of Braden River Antiques saw Flaherty as she walked out of the Goodwill store and offered to buy it from her on the spot.
Only then did she understand she had bought a pre-Prohibition reproduction on tin of Alexander Pope's 1911 painting titled "The Brook Hill Dog" and it was worth a lot more than $43.50.
"I just loved the dog," Flaherty said.
After Flaherty researched the image and learned it
was distributed as advertising to bars and saloons, she reached out to Sturtevant to help her sell it.
Flaherty said she wanted to split the proceeds between paying for medical care at an animal shelter, and to help pay for a book she was planning on fostering pets.
"Finding fosters is the No. 1 need for rescue groups. The more we can foster, the more we can save," Flaherty said.
Because Flaherty was planning to use proceeds from the sale for animal welfare, Sturtevant agreed to help and waive any fees or commissions.
"She was basically planning a local silent auction. I told her let me throw it on eBay where we can reach a national audience," Sturtevant said.
He was surprised the auction attracted so much attention. Hundreds watched and ultimately eight bidders generated 61 bids.
"I didn't think bidding would be so strong," Sturtevant said Wednesday.
Half the proceeds, $2,575, are earmarked for Safe Haven Animal Rescue of Florida medical fund.
The remainder, after eBay fees and taxes, will go to fund Flaherty's planned fostering book.
"We shipped 'The Brook Hill Dog' Tuesday to a buyer in Virginia," Flaherty said.
While she doesn't necessarily expect to discover another find of comparable value, Flaherty said she will continue to look for bargains.
"I love Goodwill. I am a thriftshop and Goodwill girl," she said.
James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee reporter, can be contacted at 941-745-7053 or on Twitter @jajones1.