Acting on a tip from a contractor in 2017, auto mechanic Jared Whipple retrieved a bunch of dirt-covered artworks from a dumpster, which was filled with materials from an abandoned barn in nearby Watertown. The haul included hundreds of pieces, including paintings, sculptures, and small drawings. Whipple later learned they were by abstract expressionist Francis Hines, who had died in 2016 and stored his work in the barn. Hines was renowned for his "wrapping" pieces, in which fabric is wrapped around an object. He wrapped more than 10 buildings in New York, including the Washington Square Arch, JFK Airport, and the Port Authority Bus Terminal.
Art curator and historian Peter Hastings Falk estimates the "wrapped" paintings that were found can be sold at around $22,000 apiece and the drawings at around $4,500. The haul could be worth millions. Whipple showed some of the pieces at a gallery in Waterbury last year, and he recently decided to sell some of the art. He is collaborating with the Hollis Taggart gallery on exhibits in New York and Connecticut beginning next month. Since finding the treasure trove, Whipple has researched Hines' work and contacted the artist's family, who—he said—have allowed him to keep and sell the art. "I pulled it out of this dumpster and I fell in love with it," Whipple told the New Haven Register. "I made a connection with it. My purpose is to get Hines into the history books."
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