Sydney man discovers $3000 artwork in council throw-out: 'No idea'

·Associate News Editor
·3-min read

A Sydney man with an eager eye for discarded treasures has hit the jackpot after he landed a painting likely worth several thousand dollars.

Leonardo Urbano, from Surry Hills, regularly scours inner-Sydney streets for furniture and other items he can save and bring back to life, often donating them to those in the community who need them.

But earlier this month, one disguised find buried in a council throw-out has proven to be one of his biggest treasures yet and one he vows to cherish for years to come.

"I found it in a cardboard box with many other paintings but most of them were children's artworks," he recalled to Yahoo News Australia.

Mr Urbano had stumbled across a striking artwork and while he said he was immediately drawn to it, he had "no idea" what it was, or its value.

The Dapeng Liu artwork in the street (left), and now sitting proudly in his home. Source: Supplied
Mr Urbano found the Dapeng Liu artwork in the street (left), and it now sits proudly in his home. Source: Supplied

"I thought it was beautiful and I don't normally think about the price, I just think if someone would want it, then I'll take it with me," he said.

Similar artwork valued at $2900

Discovering Sydney artist and two-time Archibald Prize finalist Dapeng Liu's signature at the bottom, he sent the artwork to a local gallery with knowledge of Dapeng's work to see if it was a print of an original.

However the gallery confirmed it was not a copy but an original ink on paper piece he produced in 2016.

A similar artwork from Dapeng's Nude series is priced on the gallery's site at $2900.

Mr Urbano has since been in touch with Dapeng who confirmed the artwork was genuine and had been a gift to someone.

"I said to him 'look, I'm sorry I found it in the street but I will treasure it as my own," he said, adding Dapeng was happy it would be going to a good home.

Mr Urbano regularly finds items that are worth several hundreds of dollars. His whole home (left) is filled with recycled furniture. Source: Supplied
Mr Urbano regularly finds items that are worth several hundreds of dollars. His whole home (left) is filled with recycled furniture. Source: Supplied

Instagram account set up to help the community

Mr Urbano displays a selection of his more impressive finds on his Instagram page TheTrashLawyer, stretching from a fully-functioning Dyson vacuum to vintage furniture and even Pokemon cards.

He regularly restores items such as couches, lamps and collectable electronics.

And while his own apartment is immaculately kitted out with dumped items, including Dapeng's artwork proudly displayed, his main goal is to save perfectly good items that are destined for landfill and find them a new, loving owner.

"Ideally I want to work with council to find a warehouse where I can store items and give them away, allowing people to come and drop items off and take away too," Mr Urbano said.

He has also set up a tool library through his Instagram account for the community where people can come and borrow second-hand tools he has collected over the years.

Mr Urbano said he had seen a spike in items left in the street during the pandemic, putting it down to more people spending time in their homes and therefore making them more desirable places to be spending time in.

"I've done this for years but during the pandemic I realised how much stuff was going to waste."

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