Virginia woman who went viral after cheap Goodwill vase sold for $100K speaks out: 'Changed my life'

The vase, bought for $3.99, was made by Venetian architect Carlos Scarpa for his 'Pennellate' collection

It was just another day of thrift store shopping for Jessica Vincent, 43, of Lynchburg, Virginia — until it wasn’t. 

She spent $3.99 on a vase that caught her eye at Goodwill and wound up selling it for more than $100,000 — a thrill that she said changed her life.

"It's a really special piece, and it will always have a special place in my heart and in my life," Vincent told Fox News Digital in an interview.

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"It changed my life. The money couldn't have come at a better time," she added.

Because of its significance, the find took the art and decor world by storm — and Vincent, who raises and trains horses, found herself in the media spotlight.

Jessica holding murano vase

Jessica Vincent purchased a vase at her local Goodwill — which eventually sold at an art auction for over $110,000. (Jessica Vincent / Fox News)

"Having the story go viral was very unexpected for me," she said. 

"The different news outlets and media coverage the story got was pretty incredible. I was doing podcasts and live morning shows, experiences I never thought I would be having. All because of something I’ve done countless times in my life: going to the thrift store."

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Last July, Vincent stopped at a Goodwill store while traveling from one horse farm to another.

"We walked in and it was a little bit busier than normal, but I saw the vase right away," Vincent said. 

other side of murano vase goodwill

Vincent immediately saw the unique vase as soon as she entered Goodwill, but did not grab it right away. (Courtesy of Rago/Wright / Fox News)

"I did not know what it was, but I saw that it was a large bottle and it had interesting colors. I wanted to check it out but there were just so many people in that aisle. It was just kind of jammed up, so I decided to circle back later and see what else was shaking." 

Vincent said she made her rounds and was kind of disappointed. 

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"There really wasn't much of anything in there that caught my eye that day," she said. 

"I would have loved to have kept it, but in reality I really needed the money more than I needed the vase."

- Jessica Vincent

"Then I remembered the bottle, so I went back to it and picked it up," she said.

"I realized it was really nice, and I could tell it was blown glass. It just had this beautiful iridescence and I was so surprised that nobody had picked it up before I did."

She turned over the vase, which was swathed in burgundy and green, to find three words, but she could only make out two of them: "Murano" and "Italia." 

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"I knew Murano glass was pretty nice," she said. "So I was like, ‘You're coming home with me.’" 

The vase did not have a tag on it, so Vincent said she wasn't sure of the price. 

neck of murano vase

The only words Vincent could make out on the glass vase were "Murano" and "Italia." (Courtesy of Rago/Wright / Fox News)

"But I knew that even if it was $8.99, I was going to buy it," she said. 

"And $8.99, in my mind, was a lot. But I decided that I liked it, so we put it into the cart."

After letting the vase roll around in the mostly empty shopping cart, Vincent headed to the check-out line.

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"The lady looked at it and said, ‘$3.99," Vincent said. 

"I said, ‘Perfect. I will take it.’ That was a great price in my mind. I was excited to get it home and sort of do a little bit of research to see if I could decipher that top mark and find out who made it, because I knew that would give me a little more information on the age and sort of what it was." 

murano vase from Goodwill

Vincent went on Facebook to see if anyone could help her identify the artwork's creator and collection. (Courtesy of Rago/Wright / Fox News)

She took some photos of the piece and shared them with a Facebook group.

It helped her identify the vase — which was made by Venetian architect Carlos Scarpa as part of his "Pennellate" series from the 1940s. 

"Pennellate" is the Italian word for "brush strokes."

"One person from the group commented that they're extremely rare," Vincent said. 

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"You just do not see them outside of museums or really high-end private collections. He said, ‘I have dreamed about pieces like these for my whole life, and I could never afford one. It's amazing.’ It just gave me chills," she said.

"When the numbers started creeping up, up and up — $70,000, $75,000, $80,000 — my jaw just hit the floor."

- Jessica Vincent

The group members recommended contacting an auction house.

So Vincent connected with Richard Wright of Chicago-based Wright Auctions, who sent a team of glass experts — Sara Blumberg and Jim Oliveira — to meet with Vincent and to authenticate the vase’s identity and origin.

Vincent said she would never forget the look on Blumberg’s and Oliveira’s faces when she pulled the vase from its box.

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"It was the look of amazement," Vincent said. "He said, ‘This is authentic.’ I think everybody had chill bumps. It was a very intense moment."

Wright shared with Vincent the full importance of the vase.

close up of paint detail on murano vase

The iridescent blown glass is covered in burgundy and green "brush strokes" — the original collection was called "Pennellate." (Courtesy of Rago/Wright / Fox News)

"It's an incredibly rare piece of glass designed by Carlos Scarpa," Wright told Fox News Digital. "For a period in his early career, Scarpa designed glass. This piece was made in the post-WWII era … and produced in very small numbers."

Wright said the painting of brush strokes on a utilitarian object, such as a vase, raises it to the level of a work of art.

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"It's literally an expression of the power of design and craft to transcend the object — to become an art object itself," Wright said.

Wright added that the vase would have been very expensive at the time and that he’s amazed at where it ended up.

closeup of vase

Richard Wright noted that the brush strokes on the vase are "literally an expression of the power of design and craft to transcend the object — to become an art object itself." (Courtesy of Rago/Wright / Fox News)

"What we don't know is how it ends up in Virginia," Wright said, "and gets separated from the idea of it being an expensive art piece, and then gets donated to a Goodwill."

But somehow the vase survived without a scratch.

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"If it had a chip in it, it would've been worth less than $10,000," Wright said. 

"So it's, it's just amazing that it gets through their system undamaged and set out on a shelf for $3.99. Then Jessica's savvy enough to spot it. She didn’t know exactly what it was, but she knew it was better than $4."

"I'm happy it went back into the art world and that everybody now knows that it exists."

- Jessica Vincent

Six months later, on Dec. 13, it was auction day — and Vincent, along with her family, watched the online sale together.

"I had all the emotions leading up to it," Vincent said. "When the numbers started creeping up, up and up — $70,000, $75,000, $80,000 — my jaw just hit the floor. I just — it was unbelievable. But in such a good way. I felt like I had a winning lottery ticket."

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Wright, who served as auctioneer, said he knew the piece would do well. 

"I described the piece briefly and thanked Jessica for entrusting us with it and telling a little bit of the story," Wright said. 

bottom of murano vase

If there was any sort of chip on the vase, the item would have been estimated at only $10,000. (Courtesy of Rago/Wright / Fox News)

"Then we opened the bidding at $24,000. By the end of it, with our buyer's premium, it made over $100,000," he added.

The piece was sold to an individual in Europe, Wright said. 

Vincent ended up netting about $83,000.

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"I just bought an old farmhouse and it's very cold here," Vincent said of her new purchase, courtesy of the vase.

"Right now, I have two space heaters, so I'm really excited about getting heat and updating windows and stuff like that. And having a little breathing room too, like a little nest egg."

Jessica on horse

Vincent will get to keep as much as $83,000 after the vase sold for over $100,000 at auction. (Jessica Vincent / Fox News)

Though she fell in love with the vase at first sight, Vincent said she never really considered keeping it after she learned its value.

"I would have loved to have kept it, but in reality I really needed the money more than I needed the vase," she said.

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"And I feel like I didn't really have the proper place to display it. I'm sort of happy it went back into the art world and that everybody now knows that it exists. It is a masterpiece of Carlos Scarpa — and my hope is that it may end up in a museum. I think that was the right thing for it." 

Wright agreed.

murano vase split

Vincent and Wright hope the vase will make its way into a museum at some point for the "ultimate full circle." (Jessica Vincent/Courtesy of Rago/Wright / Fox News)

"It's an amazing journey," he said.

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"It was sold to a project collector in Europe going into a very fine collection and the client has purchased a lot of spectacular pieces from us. I would like to think someday it would be donated to a museum. So that would be the ultimate full circle."

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