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Kmart special: Picasso tapestry, Ming watercolor

Discount retailer to auction off fine art from corporate office

From Jonathan Schienberg
CNN

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Kmart emerged from bankruptcy in 2003 and sold its headquarters in 2005 after merging with Sears.

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Kathy Ireland
Pablo Picasso
Jaclyn Smith
Retail

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Kmart shoppers accustomed to hunting for bargains on dishracks and bath mats can also take home works of art by Pablo Picasso and other renowned artists starting this week.

The retail chain will begin auctioning off a wealth of fine and rare art from its Michigan headquarters.

The discount retailer better known for selling casual clothing and household needs is offering up a rare Picasso tapestry worth an estimated $25,000, a 15th-Century Ming Dynasty lotus-flower watercolor on silk, and a work by painter and Apollo astronaut Alan Bean autographed by more than 20 United States astronauts, among other works of fine art.

Kmart, which emerged from bankruptcy in 2003, sold its Troy, Michigan, headquarters in December 2005 after merging with Sears.

"It's not uncommon to find great art in companies that have been around for many years. They purchased most of the art back in the 1970s, when the market didn't command such pricey price tags," said Michael Weissman of National Retail Equipment Liquidators.

He did admit to being excited about the Picasso and the Ming-era works. "They truly look like museum pieces," he said.

The company gallery will have six showings a month from June through September. Each month will feature a different style or work, and all showings will be held in executive offices of the former Kmart headquarters in Troy.

The gallery will include a myriad of Kmart memorabilia dating back to the early 1900s. The company was founded in 1899 as the S.S. Kresge Co. and changed its name to Kmart Corp. in 1977.

Highlights include a book autographed for a former CEO by supermodel and former Kmart pitchwoman Kathy Ireland, and items from a 1970s promotional campaign from onetime "Charlie's Angels" star Jaclyn Smith, who once had a Kmart clothing line.

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