Danielle Allen accidentally bought a $4,000 piece by surrealist master Salvador Dalí at an auction.
She says she bid on it out of FOMO, expecting to be quickly outbid. Instead, she won.
Allen took to TikTok in a now-viral video, sharing the story and encouraging bids.
28-year-old Colorado-based Danielle Allen didn’t intend to purchase a $4,000 piece of art history at an art auction she’d found via billboard, but that’s exactly what happened.
The firefighter and art history lover had never been to an auction and, after 20 minutes of watching beautiful art sell for as much as $75,000 (solidly out of her price range), Allen says “FOMO” drove her to bid on the next piece: a print by the Spanish surrealist Salvador Dalí. Its minimum bid was estimated for $15,000, so Allen didn’t see much harm in participating just for fun. To her great surprise, after “the longest 10 seconds of my life,” the auctioneer awarded the piece to Allen.
In a TikTok that’s since been viewed almost 3 million times, Allen recounted attending the auction earlier this month, and encouraged anyone who wanted to purchase the art to get in touch with her. “The bidding starts at $20,000,” she said. “Come on rich people, don’t let me down.”
Allen told Insider she only intended her mom and a handful of friends who would think the story was “hilarious” to see the video. Allen, who says she doesn’t know how to use TikTok well, didn’t even notice she’d gone viral until a tech-savvy colleague pointed it out.
Commenters left Allen serious advice — for instance, recommendations to purchase insurance (she did) — but also expressed solidarity.
“This totally something I would end up doing! I so hope you end up making money off this,” TikToker Lena Hendrix wrote. For Allen, a relative newcomer to the app, the conversation has been exceedingly fun.
The piece, an authentic 1974 print by the Spanish surrealist Salvador Dalí (Insider has reviewed the authentication certificate), is a depiction of Jean de la Fontaine’s “The Oak and the Reed,” a fable about the superiority of humility over pride.
Allen says her purchase — which she couldn’t actually see from her seat when she bid on it — is, in her opinion, “huge” (about 4 ft x 2/12 ft) and “hideous.” Though, she admits, it does “grow on you.”
For Allen, the “quirky” piece of art history is made more valuable by its contemporary adventure on TikTok. Though she wouldn’t turn down an exorbitant sum from a prospective buyer, now that the shock of the sticker price has worn off and the lore has deepened with its new life online, so too has her enjoyment of the piece. For now, she says she’s “just kinda sitting on it.”
“I was bored and I went to an auction and accidentally bought a $4,000 piece by Dalí,” Allen told Insider. “I like having it be able to make so many people laugh. It’s kind of nice.”
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