Art found in Connecticut dumpster is worth ‘millions’

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In September 2017, while a barn in Watertown was being sold, the entrepreneur found large canvases with car parts painted on them. The space and its contents had been deemed “abandoned”, so he called his friend Jared Whipple, an auto mechanic from Waterbury, as he thought he might like them.

The next day, Whipple drove to the dumpster where he said he retrieved the hundreds of artworks wrapped in plastic and covered in dirt. He later discovered that the art was created by Francis Hines, an artist born in Washington, DC who resided in Connecticut and New York. According to an art curator, the pieces are collectively worth “millions” of dollars.

“I immediately started researching,” said Whipple, who spent the next four years researching Hines and contacting the artist’s friends and family.

Now Whipple has collaborated with Hollis Taggart, who has galleries in Southport and New York, to build a major exhibition of Hines’ work. The exhibit will feature and offer for sale 35-40 works of art found May 5 through June 11 at Hollis Taggart Southport and New York Galleries.

Jared Whipple, an auto mechanic from Waterbury, found a large collection of Francis Hines art in a dumpster in Watertown in 2017.

Contributed by Jared Whipple

Jared Whipple, an auto mechanic from Waterbury, found a large collection of Francis Hines art in a dumpster in Watertown in 2017.

Jared Whipple, an auto mechanic from Waterbury, found a large collection of Francis Hines art in a dumpster in Watertown in 2017.

Contributed by Jared Whipple

Art curator and historian Peter Hastings Falk estimates that Hines’ ‘wrapped’ paintings can be sold for around $22,000 and his drawings for around $4,500 – which would make the collection Whipple found would be worth millions of dollars. if it were sold in its entirety. Whipple didn’t reveal exactly how many pieces he salvaged from the trash, but said there were some he wouldn’t sell.

When Whipple originally found the pieces, his first thought was to hang them up in his indoor skateboard park in Waterbury called “The Warehouse” for Halloween. But after finding out about the artist behind the collection, which included paintings, sculptures and small drawings, he decided against it and started contacting people in the art world.

“I’ve always been a mechanic and I’m known in the skateboarding world but not in the art world. So trying to get people to open your emails and take you seriously was a huge challenge. “, said Whipple.

The first person in the art field who became interested in Whipple’s findings was Muldoon Elger, a retired art dealer who owned the Vorpal Gallery in San Francisco. Elger, who had exhibited Hines’ work in the 1980s, linked Whipple to Hastings Falk.

“I was so intrigued. I went into his garage to look at the paintings. I was really surprised at what I saw,” Hastings Falk said.

Comparing Hines’ work to the art of Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Hastings Falk was most intrigued by the artist’s wrapping art. Wrapping is an artistic technique in which fabric is tightly wrapped around an object. Christo and Jeanne-Claude are known for their packing installations across Europe – their most famous being the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. During his career, Hines wrapped more than 10 buildings in New York City, including Washington Square Arch, JFK Airport, and the Port Authority Bus Terminal.

The Washington Square Arch is shrouded by artist Francis Hines circa 1980 in New York City.  (Photo by PL Gould/IMAGES/Getty Images)

The Washington Square Arch is shrouded by artist Francis Hines circa 1980 in New York City. (Photo by PL Gould/IMAGES/Getty Images)

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“Hines really is the wrapper of New York,” said Hastings Falk, who mentioned that while Christo and Jeanne-Claude are the most well-known wrappers, they’ve never worked in the city. Hines is considered a master abstract expressionist and his style was particularly innovative, according to Hastings Falk.

Hines developed his career in New York’s Greenwich Village and kept his life’s work shop in the Watertown barn where Whipple found the art. The artist died in 2016 at the age of 96 and has two living sons living in New York and Florida.

During her research, Whipple also tracked down friends and family of Hines and began to build an archive of her career. he even became friends of the artist’s family, he said, who enabled him to keep and sell the art. At the end of 2021, Whipple showed some pieces during a retrospective exhibition for the Mattatuck Museum in Waterbury titled “Discovering New York’s Packaging: The Art of Francis Hines”. He did not offer any pieces for sale during this exhibition.

A few months ago, Whipple decided to sell some of the art he had found with the intention of getting Hines’ name recognized in the art world. He learned that works of art are taken seriously after being sold for large sums of money, he said. After the exhibition at Hollis Taggart, Whipple hopes to present Hines’ work to major New York galleries, he said.

“I pulled him out of that dumpster and fell in love with him. I made a connection with him,” Whipple said, adding that he hopes to make Hines an established name in the entertainment world. art. “My goal is to put Hines in the history books,” he said.

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