Expensive artwork accidentally given to charity

September 10, 2009 4:39:13 PM PDT
A valuable bronze sculpture that was donated to charity without the donor or recipient realizing its worth is going back to its owner. The 2 1/2-ton sculpture, titled "Vanessa-Helena-Katharina-Landegger," by prominent American sculptor Sterett-Gittings Kelsey, was donated to Goodwill Industries of South Florida in May by a Miami investment firm, which asked to remain anonymous.

The sculpture is of a dancer, delicately holding onto a chair and staring at her ballet shoe. The ballerina, made in 1985, was one of 10 that ended up around the world. Its value has been put at $500,000, said Dennis Pastrana, president and CEO of the Miami charity.

Pastrana said the investment firm was renovating its building and had called Goodwill to come by and remove items. When Goodwill got the bronze piece, he said, managers from the charity looked up the sculptor's name on the Internet and contacted the artist, who provided further details.

Pastrana said Goodwill made $68,000 from the other donations, not counting the sculpture.

"We felt that the proper thing was to let the donor know," Pastrana said.

Pastrana called a company representative and told the man the company could claim a $500,000 tax deduction. After consideration, the company said it just wanted to have the statue back.

It will be returned within the next few days, Pastrana said.

A telephone message left on the answering machine of the artists' studio wasn't immediately returned.

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