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Salvador Dalí’s ‘Divine Comedy’ illustration found in North Carolina thrift shop



V. M. Traverso - published on 03/12/20

Ever wondered if that cool looking antique may actually be worth something? 

It seems like a story out of a Hollywood movie. A woman enters into a thrift shop and finds a 20th-century masterpiece. That’s what happened last Wednesday to Wendy Hawkins, a woman who volunteers twice a week at Hotline Pink Thrift Shop in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Hawkins was sorting through some old furniture and art when she suddenly set her eyes on a piece that looked especially interesting.

“One day I saw this, with a bunch of other paintings lined up on the floor, and I said ‘this is old, this is something special,” Hawkins, told WAVY TV.

The item, a woodcut print with two human figures on it, turned out to be the work of 20th-century master Salvador Dalí, who left some 100 engraved illustrations of The Divine Comedy, including the one that somehow ended up at Hotline Pink Thrift Shop.

Considered one of the greatest works of Catholic literature, The Divine Comedy is a long poem strongly rooted in Catholic philosophy, especially the Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas. Dante Alighieri spent 12 years working on 14,233 verses that explore what happens to souls after they die, from the lower rings of hell to the highest realms of paradise.

Upon finding the unusual artifact, Ms Hawkings asked Melanie Smith, the owner of Seaside Art Gallery, located just down the road from the shop, to help her trace the artist. After in-depth research, Smith was able to recognize the piece, which features a woman painted in blue and a man painted in red, as the depiction of Purgatory Canto 32, where Dante features Adam and Eve and the tree of Eden.

Originally priced at $10, the piece was sold for $1,200. The store will donate proceeds to a shelter for teens and victims of domestic violence and of human trafficking. “It’s rare to find anything like this,” Smith told “It’s like a treasure hunt, and thanks to Wendy, it’s been rescued, and brought to light so people in the art world can really enjoy it.”

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