The mysterious painting that showed up in a donation pile at the Bainbridge Island Rotary Auction & Rummage Sale has finally found a home – even if some answers as to how it got there remain a mystery.

I first wrote about the mysterious masterpiece back in March, and now the story finally has an ending and the painting an appropriate home.


While exactly where it came from might forever remain shrouded in mystery, Chiura Obata’s untitled painting of the Topaz Japanese American Internment Camp in Utah — which somehow found its way to the Bainbridge Island Rotary Auction & Rummage Sale donation pile last year — will at last hang in a worthy home.

The Rotary Club of Bainbridge Island presented the painting, a monochrome mixed nihonga (new-style Japanese painting) and sumi-e style (traditional Japanese black ink painting) picture depicting the World War II-era Topaz internment camp, to Jane Beckwith at a luncheon Monday, bringing to an end this, the latest chapter in the painting’s illustrious and mysterious history. Beckwith is the director of the Topaz Museum.

“What we agreed on pretty early on was that this was not ours, not ours to sell,” Rotary Club of Bainbridge Island president Todd Tinker said at Monday’s gathering. “It was not ours to keep, that it belonged to the country and to the Japanese American community. So selling it was off the table.”

Working with the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community, Tinker said, it was also agreed equally quickly that the painting did not belong to them, either.

Read the full story here. 

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