Dali originals donated to Salvation Army

August 25, 2009 3:15:18 PM PDT
When you give to charity, chances are the old clothes or used appliances you donate aren't worth that much. But one anonymous donor gave something amazing to the local Salvation Army -- Salvador Dali originals. The works of Dali are often confined to museums, but here in Houston, try looking next to the 99 cent rack at the Salvation Army near downtown Houston.

"When I heard about it this morning, I thought, 'I don't think you read that right'," said shopper Norma Martinez.

Martinez says she came to the Salvation Army to represent her employers, who read the charity was auctioning off a rare find.

She jotted down $5,000 bids for a bronze crucifix and a drawing of Don Quijote. For a set of six prints, she bid $3,000. Still, it's more than most shoppers here say they could afford.

"I wish I could have it at home myself," said shopper Carlos Ayala.

But is this all too good to be true? The pictures come with certificates of authenticity from a California gallery, But an appraiser specializing in Dali told us that's still no guarantee these aren't forgeries.

Assistant store Supervisor Carl Roberts believes they're real and says a wealthy Houston woman donated the pictures anonymously with one condition. The money would go the charity's adult rehabilitation center, a residential program that helps men like Don Cairrel, a former cocaine user, overcome addictions.

"I'm just so overwhelmed with joy," said Cairrel. "I'm so elated."

Today, he's the assistant supervisor at the Salvation Army's thrift shop, where the abstract pieces are on display, puzzling art enthusiasts and shoppers alike.

Dali experts say the problem with authenticating the works is that there are many forgeries out there. If you want to check them out, they'll be on display through the end of August before going home with the highest bidder.

During his lifetime, Salvador Dali produced more than 1,500 paintings in addition to illustrations for books, lithographs, dozens of sculptures and even an animated cartoon for Disney, the parent company of ABC13.

Dali died in 1989 of heart failure at the age of 84. He is buried in the Teatro Museo in Figueres, Spain, across the street from the church where he was Baptized and three blocks from the home at which he was born.

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