David Bowie painting up for auction: portrait sold for $5 at thrift store expected to sell for thousands

The piece was painted by the British rocker in the 1990s

A handout photo released on June 15, 2021, courtesy of the auction house Cowley Abbott shows Canadian Art Specialist Rob Cowley with a painting by British pop icon David Bowie in Toronto, Canada. A painting by British pop icon David Bowie recently discovered at a Canadian store that resells donated goods had frantic bidders lining up for a chance to own it June 15, 2021. - RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO /Cowley Abbott " - NO MARKETING - NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
 / AFP / Cowley Abbott / Handout / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO /Cowley Abbott " - NO MARKETING - NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS

Frantic bidders are racing to acquire a painting by British pop legend David Bowie, which was recently discovered at a Canadian store that resells donated goods.

The computer and acrylic collage on canvas is part of the so-called D Head series of portraits of the Ziggy Stardust rocker himself, his friends and others that he painted between 1995 and 1997. It is signed on the back with his initials.

Opening bids of more than CA$15,000 ($14,000) blew past Toronto auction house Cowley Abbot's estimated CA$9,000 to CA$12,000 valuation of the diminutive artwork on Tuesday. The online auction closes on June 24.

"We were very excited to discover that the artwork was original and authentic," said auctioneer Rob Cowley. "We are fans of David Bowie's work and it is very exciting to bring an artwork by him to the market."

Rock Star David Bowie headlines at the Glastonbury Festival 2000 June 25. Day three of the festival saw a performance by rock legend Bowie playing for the first time at Glastonbury since 1971, when the event was only in its second year.

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The 24 by 20 centimetre painting of a pale figure dressed in teal clothes, with teal and red hair on a crimson background, was originally sold through a website around 2001.

It somehow found itself two decades later at a donations store in South River, Ontario, 300 kilometres north of Toronto. There, an anonymous buyer paid CA$5 for it.

Bowie attended art school and was an avid collector. His estate fetched tens of millions of dollars after his death in January 2016 for about 350 works from his collection, including pieces by Basquiat, Henry Moore and Damien Hirst.

But his own artworks, according to Cowley, rarely go on sale.

Starting with Space Oddity in 1969, Bowie scored hit after hit over more than four decades, ranging from The Jean Genie and Heroes in the 1970s to Let's Dance and Modern Love in the 1980s to more recent hits such as 2013's wistful Where Are We Now?

Many of these became era-defining hits around the world while successively defining what it meant to be a music legend.

Two days after the release of his 25th studio album, Blackstar, on his 69th birthday, Bowie died of cancer.

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