Maud Lewis’ art, formerly traded for sandwiches, sells for $350,000

New Hamburg, Ont. –

Hungry for some hard news, a man from western Canada has stumbled upon a story about a painting that is up for auction. The work of famous Nova Scotia folk artist, Maud Lewis, was traded in the 1970s for some grilled cheese sandwiches. Recently, it was valued before the auction at around $35,000.

There’s not much good news, then I stumbled upon this little article,” the buyer, who wishes to remain anonymous, told CTV News.

“I’ve never actually heard of Maud Lewis.”

The man recently bought the painting for a record $350,000, which is five times more than any Louise’s painting before and ten times the estimated price.

He and his wife had seen a movie about Lewis the night before the auction and said they thought it would be nice to be part of the story behind the painting, a black truck on a country road.

“For the past four or five years, I’ve been telling my wife I’m looking for a black pickup truck and I think I’ve found it,” he said.

The remarkable price that the painting fetched continues to cause a buzz among collectors.

“Showrooms that are offering this stuff for sale, there’s nothing to sell right away because the prices are calibrated,” said Ethan Miller of Miller & Miller Auctions, which listed the board.

Lewis, who died in 1970, lived most of her life in poverty in a one-room home in Marshalltown, Nova Scotia. She suffered from debilitating arthritis and sells her paintings on the side of the road, often for $5. She ordered paint from local fishermen and described her work as happy, cheerful, and childlike. They were often similar to scenes of rural life, including landscapes and wide-eyed cats.

“She was completely untrained, but I think that’s what people like so much about it,” said Justin Miller, who co-managed the auction house in New Hamburg, Ont.

“As we come out of the pandemic, I think people are looking for exciting things, colorful things, and fun things,” he said.

Another of Lewis’s oil paintings, depicting a pair of bulls, was auctioned for $70,000, the second highest price ever paid for one of her works.

Bill Mayberry is an art dealer who has sold more than 250 of her paintings since the 1980s. He says sales would likely turn the tide on most of Lewis’s paintings, noting that she initially sold her art on Christmas cards for a few cents.

You will be totally amazed and baffled by the amount of attention her work has received in recent years. “The kind of numbers you would never have imagined,” Mayberry said.

Erin Dimas and her husband, Tony, got the truck plate, one of three known, nearly 50 years ago. The couple ran a restaurant in London, Ontario, and one of their regular customers was local artist John Kinnear. Kinnear assisted Louis with supplies and in return sent him several of her paintings. Offer six of them to Dimas in exchange for some grilled cheese sandwiches at lunchtime.

“One caught my eye, the black van. It was a very bright and happy little painting,” said Dimas.

“I was pregnant with my son and thought he would look cute in the baby’s room.”

She chose only one plate.

Nearly 50 years later, you can’t believe it was sold for so much money.

“I wish I had taken all six,” she said with a chuckle.

She hopes the story will draw more attention to Louis, who has spent most of her life in hiding.

“I think it’s time for Canadians to pay more attention to and appreciate it.”