Paintings in Pantages' collection. (Courtesy PantagesPortfolio.blogspot.com)
QUINCY (WBZ-AM) -- When certified art and property appraiser Peter Smith of Plymouth Exchange went to look at the collection of a retired Quincy municipal employee, he had no idea he would find stack after stack of brilliant and valuable paintings.
"I've never come across anything like it," Smith told WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Kendall Buhl. "I've come across people that collect things in that kind of quantity, but not that kind of quality."
That collector, James Pantages, is now being hailed as a genius as his decades-in-the-making collection comes to light.
Peter and his wife Judy have been going through the 1,200-piece collection since Pantages contacted them about parting with his collection when it came time to sell his childhood home.
The art could be worth more than a million dollars--but Smith is just happy that Pantages' eye for art is finally being appreciated.
Pantages had been told by his family at a young age that he was wasting his time and money collecting art.
"Some people would refer to this as hoarding, but it's not, because it's so carefully chosen and so good," Smith said.
The family thought he had a serious problem.
"So he was sneaking paintings into the house up into his room, hiding them," Smith said. "He'd lie about what he paid for things, just to keep them off his back."
Because he became embarrassed by his collection, Pantages never showed it to anyone.
"He never got to be proud of something that he had discovered," Smith said. "He just stashed it wherever he could."
Smith said that, with help, Pantages' attitude toward his collection is changing.
"We've been sort of easing him along and making sure that he develops some pride in what he's done," Smith said. "He's getting it now, and he realizes that what he has done all these years is rather remarkable."
The first portion of the collection goes on the block in September. You can learn more about the collection and follow updates at pantagesportfolio.blogspot.com.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Kendall Buhl reports