Nephew discovers dying auntie’s $25 million secret after she told him to ‘look under sewing machine’


Carl Sabatino’s aunt left behind a $25 million (£20 million) gift for him just before she passed away.

Jenny Verastro, once of Staten Island, US, told her doting nephew on her deathbed in 2004 that she had left a hidden treasure under her sewing machine.

She had kept it a secret for years and Carl would abide by her dying wish.

After taking a look underneath, he discovered an old painting wrapped in newspaper, which he, initially, thought nothing of.

However, he soon realised that the drawing was something he remembered seeing in his aunt’s house many times as a child before she passed.

Curious Carl started to take a closer look at the painting and you wouldn’t believe what he found.

“As I moved the sewing machine, it came sliding right out into my lap. I was stunned,” he said.

“I found it wrapped in newspaper. That started this adventure 12 years ago.”

Carl was stunned after spotting a signature in the upper left hand corner, which read ‘Picasso’.

But could it be?

Suspecting it might be a replica of Picasso’s 1901 painting ‘Woman with a Cape’, he went and got it valued at Christie’s in New York.

“She examined it for about 30 seconds and literally flipped it back at me and said, ‘This is a $10 (£7.86) poster, don’t waste your time,’” he recalled.

Sabatino then went to visit art analyst Dr. Kenneth Smith, president of the Center for Art Materials Analysis to see if he could find out more info.

Smith used a needle to extract pigment and studied it under a microscope, concluding it was consistent with materials used in Europe in the 1930s.

Finally, after 15 years of research, the re-painted drawing was officially verified and had been appraised for a whopping $25 million (£20 million) in 2019.

“The owner went through the time and expense to have it chemically tested, dated and having the fingerprint analyzed to ensure the validity of the work,” Alexandra DeMasi, the gallery director of Sheldon Fine Art said.

“I genuinely think the most interesting thing about the piece is that, to some extent, it rewrites art history.”

Demasi claims that ownership can be traced back to 1944, when a man named Nicholas Verrastro bought the piece from a street corner vendor during WWII.

The painting arrived in New York City and the piece was kept in the home of Jennie and Rose Verrastro in Greenwich Village.

Incredible stuff – now go and check underneath your sewing machine folks.

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