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Before Aunt Dies, She Tells Nephew To Check Under The Sewing Machine


There are a number of things that get sent down through generations of family members, sometimes solely as memorabilia, but other times because of the growing value of it. Many of these things, which increase in value over time, include:

  • Vintage goods,
  • Antique furniture,
  • Jewelry.

However, one man was left something by his aunt that wasn’t just considered valuable because of the time that had past, but also because of who created it.

Little did anyone else in the family know, what was hidden in this aunt’s crawlspace underneath a sewing machine could be worth millions of dollars today.

New Jersey broadcast executive, Carl Sabatino, was pointed in the direction of a potential hidden treasure. His aunt gave him specific directions while on her deathbed in March 2012.


“Three days before she passed on, she told me, ‘Don’t forget, Carl, to look under the sewing machine,’” Sabatino recalled to the New York Daily News.

Carl’s aunt, Jenny Verrastro, must have known that what she had hiding in her crawlspace in Staten Island was potentially valuable. Sabatino was stunned with what he came across.

Underneath the sewing machine, a painting wrapped in newspaper came sliding onto his lap, a painting which Carl believes could be the work of acclaimed artist Pablo Picasso.

The discovery of this painting galvanized Carl Sabatino on a 12 year adventure to prove that the piece was in fact by Pablo Picasso.

Sabatino relayed that his uncle, Nicky Verrastro, had purchased the piece of artwork back in 1944 from a street vendor in London while he was serving as a soldier in the second World War.

Verrastro only purchased the painting for a mere $10, but suspects that the art was originally home to a nearby gallery that had been bombed or looted.

sew7NBC New York

The work is an apparent replica of Picasso’s 1901 piece, “Woman with a Cape,” which is showcased at the Cleveland Museum of Art. However, Sabatino had more than a hunch that Picasso himself was behind the recreation.

When Sabatino brought the artwork to an expert at Christie’s in New York, he was met with skepticism and the piece was dismissed as some cheap knock-off.

“She examined it for about 30 seconds and literally flipped it back at me and said, ‘This is a $10 poster, don’t waste your time,’” Sabatino said to the New York Daily News.

sew10NBC New York

Sabatino wasn’t ready to be brushed off and was quick to retort that the piece was in color, which was an exotic medium in Europe at the time it was purchased by his uncle.

sew11NBC New York

The Christie’s expert was stumped by Sabatino’s point and he decided to take research into his own hands and prove that this painting was not just a worthless knock-off.

sew12NBC New York

Carl Sabatino discovered that Pablo Picasso indeed experimented with a color printing technique back in 1936, which prompted him to seek out an art analyst for further confirmation.

sew13NBC New York

Dr. Kenneth Smith, president of the Center for Art Materials Analysis in Westmont, Illinois, extracted pigment from the artwork and found that it was consistent with materials used in the proposed time frame.

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Dr. Smith also verified the presence of a partial thumb print and now the work is being analyzed by a forensic expert. An art appraiser specializing in work by Picasso is as confident as Sabatino that the work is real. He valued the piece at a whopping $13 million.

sew15NBC New York

“This is a treasure hunt for me, for the love of my family,” Sabatino told Daily News. “This is a story of redemption for my family. They protected this and bequeathed it to me to find the truth.”


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