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Renoir painting bought at US flea market

A woman in the US state of Virginia bought what is believed to be a Renoir masterpiece at a flea market for $50.
Flea market washington 2012 9 9 Enlarge
Flea markets are great places to buy cheap hats, books, clothes and, for one Virginia woman, Renoir masterpieces. (KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)

A woman in the US state of Virginia who bought a box of random items at a flea market for $50 may have unwittingly purchased a Renoir masterpiece.

The box contained among other things a doll and a plastic cow and what experts believe to be a painting by French master Pierre-Auguste Renoir, the Australian ABC reported.

The woman took the small pastel-colored painting of a river scene in a white plastic bag to a local auction house to have it examined. The BBC reported that the auctioneers expect to sell it for up to $100,000 this month. 

Anne Norton Craner, Potomack Company’s fine arts specialist, told the New York Times she researched the 5.5-by-9-inch painting and is convinced it is Renoir's Paysage Bords de Seine from about 1879.

"You just see it and you know it’s right," Craner said.

"She liked the look of the frame, and started tearing off the paper on the back, and her mum told her to stop," because it might be worth something.

The owner wishes to remain anonymous.

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