July 19, 2003
By Larry McShane
Associated Press Writer
In late June, Corinne Turner walked into a Utah discount store and spent 99 cents on canvas wallpaper. She opened her purchase to find - surprise! - five pieces of art worth $6,000.
From there, things turned strange.
Turner contacted the artist in New Jersey; his son verified the artworks' authenticity, and told her to keep the prints. Turner opted to sell the pieces to raise funds for multiple sclerosis victims.
The artist, best known for producing romance novel cover art with model Fabio, agreed that was a worthy cause - and donated 495 limited edition prints of a previously unreleased piece.
The gesture was expected to raise more than $400,000 for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society as painting mixed with philanthropy on an unlikely palette.
The cause is personal for both Turner and Pino. Turner, 43, of Layton, Utah, was diagnosed two years ago with the chronic disease of the central nervous system. And one of Pino's in-laws was left in a wheelchair by the illness that affects 400,000 Americans.
''It's a great story,'' said Max Dangelico, Pino's son and business partner. ''Thousands of people will benefit. The MS Society will benefit, and Pino is happy.''
Each Pino print of the new work was worth $1,450, according to Dangelico. They will be distributed through galleries nationwide, with all the money after expenses going to the MS Society.
Turner has already raised $50,000 herself by selling Pino's works in her home state and soliciting matching funds on each purchase from local businesses.
''It's really hard to believe,'' said Turner, who was in Manhattan for a weekend where she met Dangelico and society officials for the first time.
The tale began two years ago, when a shipment of Pino prints bound for Baltimore turned up missing. The paintings - wrapped in wallpaper - eventually reappeared in The Basement - an Ogden, Utah, store that sells misdirected, unclaimed freight.
Thinking the wallpaper would please her daughter, Turner plunked down her money and left on June 28. But her daughter was unimpressed, and the canvas stayed packed away.
Once opened, though, it revealed the hidden artwork. A local art dealer identified the work as Pino's. Her improbable partnership soon followed.
Pino - he answers to the single sobriquet - has his own back story. Born in Italy, the artist came to the United States in 1979. He quickly established himself as THE artist for romance novels covers, eventually illustrating more than 3,000 books and working with a then-unknown model named Fabio.
After 13 years in the book business, he returned to work in fine art. That, a decade later, led to his meeting with Turner. Officials at the MS Society were ecstatic about the whole thing.
''What Corinne has done is turn lemons into lemon meringue pie,'' said
Arney Rosenblat, spokeswoman for the MS Society. ''It really, really is
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