Even though the style seemed unmistakable -- Pollock is neck-and-neck with Monet in the famed "easy to point out from a distance to feel smart at a museum" art movement -- the likelihood of an authentic Pollock making its way to the Southwestern U.S. without anyone knowing seemed like a stupid plot twist for real life. The appraiser, Josh Levine, spent 18 months and tens of thousands of dollars investigating the painting's history.
Levine discovered that the owner had a half-sister named Jenifer Gordon Cosgriff, who'd been a New York socialite earlier in the century. After some digging, he managed to link Gordon Cosgriff to a specific showing where she could've reasonably acquired the painting. When Gordon Cosgriff had died, the Arizona man had collected her belongings and stored them in his garage for decades. Levine then had forensics experts analyze the physical painting itself, and they confirmed that it was likely one of Pollock's missing "gouaches" from 1945-1949, a specific style of painting that combined water with a binding agent.
Success!!! Looks like this cold case had been returned to room temperature. (That's the closing line of every Cold Case episode.)
Levine still plans to auction the painting, and estimates its worth at between $10 million and $15 million, which is decent compensation for the embarrassment of having a seven-figure painting in your garage for a quarter of a century without knowing it.
And there was an even more unbelievable twist: That Lakers poster? Genuine Da Vinci. Unreal.