CASH IN THE ATTIC We hated our family heirloom painting and were about to give it to charity before we found out it was worth MILLIONS
An extraordinary discovery has recently unfolded in the Blue Mountains as Australian artist Freda Robertshaw’s artwork, “The Bushwalkers,” has come to light. This hidden gem was discovered in Tracy Nickl’s grandparents’ residence.
The painting, now valued at approximately $1 million, is set to find its permanent home at the esteemed National Gallery of Australia.
Initially part of a collection destined for an op-shop, fate took a different turn when artist Ben Quilty recognized the profound significance of “The Bushwalkers.”
Unknown to the residents, this masterpiece had graced their Blue Mountains family home for years, hanging above the Christmas tree. Yet, beneath its unassuming presence, lay the legacy of pioneering Australian artist Freda Robertshaw from the 1940s.
Robertshaw, renowned for her prowess in Art Deco and neoclassical depictions of figures and landscapes, etched her name in history as the first Australian female artist to paint a fully nude self-portrait. Her journey ended in 1997 at the age of 80, leaving an indelible mark on the artistic landscape.
Tracy’s journey of discovery unfolded as he embarked on the task of cleaning out his grandparents’ property following his father’s passing. What was initially intended as a charitable act of giving away the artworks took a turn when Tracy sought the insight of his neighbor and accomplished artist, Ben Quilty.
In a serendipitous moment, Ben’s discerning eye fell upon Robertshaw’s signature on the back of “The Bushwalkers.” A swift call to an art dealer ensued, with an immediate offer of $600,000. However, the Nickl family’s decision diverged from monetary gain, with a heartfelt choice to bestow the artwork upon the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra. This gesture stands as a tribute to Tracy’s grandparents, Joe and Josie, who cherished art and its creators.
“My grandfather was an art enthusiast, particularly drawn to Australian art and its creators,” Tracy shared with ABC Illawarra Breakfast. “This piece has resided in my grandparents’ home throughout my life and the lives of my parents.”
In this remarkable twist of fate, “The Bushwalkers” journeyed from obscurity to prominence, leaving an indelible mark on Australian art history and highlighting the significance of valuing artistic legacies.