Thrift store find turns out to be a work of art

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A thrift shop isn't exactly the place to look for valuable art, but that's exactly what happened at a local Salvation Army store.

Aaron Siepierski stumbled upon a sculpture at the Salvation Army in West Bloomfield. 

"When we were purchasing it, a lady looked up at me and said, 'Why? Why are you buying this? It's a head of a guy,'" Siepierski remembers. 

The "guy" is a bronze sculpture of composer Gustav Mahler, an Auguste Rodin replica. If you don't know the name of Rodin name, chances are you know his work.

"He was considered one of the most gifted French sculptors," says Robert Dumouchelle of DuMouchelle's Art Galleries and Auction House. "You'll see The Thinker who is bending over with his arm resting on his knee, and that is a major Rodin bronze," DuMouchelle says. 

Siepierski said he wasn't familiar with the other works.

FOX 2 met Siepierski at DuMouchelle's in downtown Detroit where he learned that even though his bronze bust is a knockoff, it is still worth a pretty penny. 

"They copied an original and took everything from it," says Ernest DuMouchelle. "That's a decorative, decorative piece here. You're going to probably achieve somewhere in the $600 to $900 ... range."

Not bad for $22.

"Go figure!" Siepierski says, smiling.

Needless to say, he's now putting this Rodin replica up for auction. No one at the Salvation Army store knows who donated the sculpture.

"We get a lot of different stuff, lots and lots of different stuff, and sometimes it's worth money," says Leona Westover.

And Aaron's story proves an old adage true - one man's trash is another man's treasure.

"I've always been the one to never find anything," Siepierski says. "I can never find clothes that fit me; I can never find anything good. Except for today."

Siepierski says he plans on donating half of whatever he makes at the auction to the Salvation Army.