The Price Is Right

You may not get what you paid for, but you will pay for what you get.

— Maya Angelou1

The unsigned painting of a frowning, middle-aged peasant woman languished in a Tokyo auction house. The staff felt the painting was charming, but run-of-the-mill and not particularly valuable. They set its price at $83.

Before the auction began, the auction house owner asked a group of experts to take a closer look. Surprisingly, the experts determined that the portrait was actually a rare, unsigned painting by Vincent van Gogh, completed in 1884. At auction, it sold for $550,000.

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