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One Goodwill donation comes with a heavy price tag

Friday - 1/11/2013, 5:55am  ET

Maria Rivera discovered a painting by Giovanni Battista Torriglia at the Goodwill drop-off center in Manassas. The painting is worth $12,000 and will be auctioned off. (WTOP/Andrew Mollenbeck)
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Andrew Mollenbeck,

MANASSAS, Va. — Goodwill employee Maria Rivera sees all sorts of donations — ranging from the fascinating to the bizarre — dropped off at the location's donation center.

In a store known for carrying most any household item, a painting recently caught her attention. It was apparent that the piece of art did not fit in with the other donated goods.

The painting is by Giovanni Battista Torriglia, a 19th-century painter, whose works fetch six-figure auction bids.

"I can see something and say, ‘That could be very expensive and give us a lot of money,' but I'm not an expert," Rivera says.

It turns out the painting Rivera spotted has a value of about $12,000.

"I saw the painting — something attracted my eyes — and I said, ‘Wait a minute, this is the real thing here,'" she says.

After Rivera's discovery, the painting was turned over to Goodwill of Greater Washington, where it is up for auction Jan. 9 through Jan. 16.

It's still unclear if the donor had any idea about the value of the painting, or if he or she now regrets being so generous.

"I feel very, very proud, and I know that it's going to be a very good thing for Goodwill," Rivera says.

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