grilled cheese

Woman Traded Grilled Cheese Sandwich For Painting That Sold For Over $250K (That’s a Lot of Bread)

Photo: Burke/Triolo Productions

If you’re a fan of The Office, you’ve probably seen the episode where Dwight Schrute attempts to trade up to bigger and better items at the office’s yard sale, eventually being tricked into trading a very expensive telescope for Jim’s Professor Copperfield’s Miracle Legumes. What they do is a mystery, but the man who Jim got them from told him things about himself that nobody could possibly know. In the simplest terms, Dwight was duped. While not at the same level of conniving or cunning, someone else traded something small and insignificant for something with a little more value. And in this case, it definitely wasn’t magic beans. The trade was simple: grilled cheese sandwiches for art.

If this was art that was removed from your fridge and drawn by a 2-year-old, this would all make sense. No, the art in question ended up being worth hundreds of thousands of dollars years later.

Photo: Jon Dunford, Miller & Miller Auctions Ltd

It all started when Irene Demas and her husband Tony opened a restaurant in the early 1970s in London, Ontario, Canada, called The Villa. Since she didn’t really have any culinary training, she decided that grilled cheese sandwiches would be the restaurant’s specialty. They were a big hit.

After a few years, a couple named Audrey and John Kinnear began to come in. John was an artist and asked if they could barter some of his art for meals. For some reason, this made sense to everyone. So it was watercolor paintings for grilled cheese sandwiches. An equal trade-off if you ask us.

At some point, Kinnear came into the restaurant with paintings that he didn’t make. Still, the couple enjoyed trading seemingly worthless art for food. One painting in particular really caught Irene’s eye. It was an image of a black truck trundling down a cartoonish road.

She held onto this painting and many others. And, more than 50 years after bartering this painting (by Maude Lewis), it sold for a staggering $272,548. That could buy a lot more than a few grilled cheese sandwiches.