David Bowie painting bought for $5 at Canadian rubbish dump set to sell for over $50k

David Bowie painting bought for $5 at Canadian rubbish dump set to sell for over $50k
Photo credit: Getty, Cowley Abbott

A painting bought by a woman at a Canadian rubbish dump has been revealed to be a rare artwork by late music legend David Bowie, now set to sell for tens of thousands. 

An anonymous woman picked up the piece at a donation centre at an Ontario landfill, paying C$5 (approximately NZ$5.78) before turning it over and discovering the labels and signature that declared it one of a series of 47 canvas paintings by Bowie entitled 'Dead Heads'. 

Experts at Cowley Abbott auction house, where the abstract portrait is for sale, estimated its worth at between C$9,000 - $12,000; however at the time of writing, the current bid was C$50,100. The auction will run until June 24, leaving plenty of time for the price to continue to rise. 

Auction house president Rob Cowley told CNN the painting "caught the buyer's eye" before they knew anything about its history. 

"They thought it was an interesting painting before they turned it around and saw the labels on the back."

The work is signed with the 'Rebel Rebel' hitmaker's distinctive signature, and dated 1997. According to the auction house, Bowie's 'Dead Heads' are portraits of band members, friends and acquaintances, and include some self-portraits. 

"It has been suggested that, for some of these important paintings, Bowie drew inspiration from the Ziggy Stardust era," the blurb on the Cowley Abbott website reads. 

"With long hair and a pronounced profile, this energetic and enigmatic portrait is truly a rare representation from a celebrated artist." 

According to Andy Peters at davidbowieautograph.com, who helped confirm the authenticity of the work, items that bear Bowie's autograph have increased in value by up to 300 percent since his death in January 2016.