A painting by Nova Scotia artist Maud Lewis, who friends say eschewed financial success in her lifetime, is setting price records 50 years after her death.

Her artwork "Portrait of Eddie Barnes and Ed Murphy, Lobster Fishermen, Bay View, N.S." was discovered in the donation bin of a Kitchener-area thrift shop in March.

The painting was valued at $16,000 before it was placed for auction and has since surpassed the $125,000 bidding mark. The previous record sale price for a piece of her artwork was $22,000.

It's a far cry for a painter who used to charge $5 at most per painting.

But people who knew Lewis say she wouldn't have cared about the rocketing bidding price.

"She didn't really like a lot of the publicity," said Paul Lewis, whose father was a doctor in Digby County, N.S., that tended to the artist. "I think she just liked to paint."

Paul Lewis, who is not related to the artist, and his family ended up amassing a collection of her paintings, as the artist used those to pay her medical bills.

Interest in the Maritime artist has risen over the past year as Hollywood has taken a turn at portraying her life. Ethan Hawke and Sally Hawkins are starring in the film "Maudie," which tells of her marriage to fisherman Everett Lewis.

Their home is now the home of the Maud Lewis Gallery in downtown Halifax.

Cineplex says interest in the film has been so great, the company is adding the film to dozens more theatres as of April 28.

Art experts say they're unsurprised.

"It's not a surprise that people are getting excited to see the work again," said Sarah Fillmore, the curator for the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. "I would like to think it's just one of those things, every couple of years, people are going to remember how wonderful the work is and come back and feel a connection to it."

The auction of the painting goes until May 19.