Gavel comes down on Goodwill's Dali etching

C.R. Roberts

Staff writer

Sold, for $21,005.

Such was the final bid Monday evening for a Salvador Dali etching anonymously donated at the Federal Way Goodwill donation station sponsored by Tacoma Goodwill.

The etching, titled "Reflection," is No. 126 of 150 and part of Dali's "Cycle of Life Suite."

Bidding began Nov. 6 with a reserve of $999 at

Following a scramble of news reports in national media - from CNN to Fox, from Huffington Post to MSNBC - the bids, and interest, steadily rose.

By late Monday afternoon, the work had received 149 bids and had been seen by more than 100,000 viewers, said Tacoma Goodwill e-sales manager Dylan Lippert.

"There's just obviously a lot of excitement around this," he said. "It's surprising to me. Talk about a humbling experience. Every once in a while something like this reminds us of how important what we do is. This is funding 10 scholarships for people with disabilities and barriers to employment. Just this one item will fund another 10 people. As of last week, there wasn't funding for that. It's amazing."

"Regardless of who you are," Lippert said, "I think it's really easy to get a little caught up in this and feel good about it."

The work had been authenticated by Puyallup senior appraiser and fine arts specialist Donald Dunnigan.

"It's the real thing," he said Monday. "It's not a fake."

Robert Varner, a nationally recognized Dali expert and Minnesota-based art broker, is familiar with the piece, and in fact has the full "Cycle of Life Suite" for sale.

The activity surrounding the Tacoma Goodwill etching has surprised him.

"It's shocking," he said. "I was shocked when it hit $5,000, then I heard $8,000, then $12,000. I see it's up to $18,000. I'm flabbergasted."

The price of his full suite might now increase from its current $5,000.

"This is a strong example of how the art market is coming back in correlation with the real estate market," said Dunnigan.

Lippert, of the Tacoma Goodwill, agrees.

"I think it's an indication that the art market is coming back," he said. "When people see an opportunity, and at the same time can fund a nonprofit with a great mission, I think that adds to the value of the item. People can spend money, get something they want and feel good about where that money is going."

Terry Hayes, Tacoma Goodwill CEO, remains confident that the high bids are, like the etching, authentic.

"There's been some big-name national people bidding on this," she said Monday. "We've looked at the names of some of the bidders - names you'd recognize."

Given privacy restrictions, the names of bidders will not be released without their permission.

"I'd love to meet the person who donated it so I can offer my thinks," Hayes said. "I would say that we're so grateful, and we're able to turn that donation into job training. Whoever donated that probably had no idea they would do so much good. It's an incredible gift."

Hayes said she would also enjoy meeting the winning bidder.

"I'd like to invite the buyer to our Goodwill or the one nearest to them, so they can understand the good they've done."

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C.R. Roberts: 253-597-8535