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Homeless man becomes famous painter and sells artwork to Oprah

Oprah Winfrey surprised formerly homeless painter Richard Hutchins by supporting his work and buying one of his portraits

Oprah Winfrey surprised formerly homeless painter Richard Hutchins by supporting his work and buying one of his portraits (Pictures: Entertainment Tonight)

A man went from being homeless to a famous painter with artwork sold to Oprah Winfrey – living proof that ‘anything is possible’. Richard Hutchins, 62, was living on the streets in Los Angeles when he had a chance encounter with a nonprofit CEO who helped put his work on the map.

Hutchins was known as a celebrity portrait artist in the 2000s – when he claimed to be former football player Drew Hill. Hutchins pretended to be someone he was not because he ‘never thought people would be interested in his art without a compelling story’, his website states.

But in 2010, Hutchins’ real identity was revealed and he was placed behind bars. While in prison, Hutchins kept making art using M&Ms, Skittles and coffee grounds. He was released six years ago and remained homeless.

Hutchins’ dream was ‘to walk in a museum one day and to see one of my painting hanging on the wall’, he said in an Instagram Reel shared by @pubity on Monday.

The nonprofit CEO, former music manager Charlie ‘Rocket’ Jabaley, launched a website for Hutchins’ paintings and his work soon filled the largest art gallery in Beverly Hills. An auction of Hutchins’ work grossed $51,120 in the first four hours, including one painting that sold for $23,000.

Hutchins was in disbelief at that success and that celebrities including American TV presenter Steve Harvey bought his originals.

The formerly homeless man was struck with emotion and speechless when Winfrey surprised him in a virtual appearance on Entertainment Tonight on Tuesday.

Winfrey offered some advice: ‘Richard, you’re not charging enough money for these paintings’.

‘I saw an Angela Davis portrait, it was like $150? So listen, I’m gonna pay $1,500 for that, because it needs to be at least 10 times what you’re asking for it,’ said Winfrey, who ended up buying an original of a portrait of a young girl with flowers on her hair for $5,000.

During the segment on Zoom, Hutchins told Winfrey: ‘You don’t even know what you’ve done with my life’.

At the end of the Instagram reel featuring him, Hutchins said: ‘Anything is possible’.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk.

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