By Tara Molina

CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago-area prodigy Akiane Kramarik made a name for herself in the art world at just 8 years old when her painting of Jesus launched her career.

Then the piece disappeared, mistakenly sold, and kept out of the public eye for nearly two decades.

CBS 2’s Tara Molina reports, the artist recently recovered the work, titled “Prince of Peace.”

Prince Of Peace, (Akaine Gallery)

Divine timing and an unexpected Christmas present–that’s what Akiane Kramarik calls bringing the painting out of hiding after 17 years.

Sitting in her North Shore home studio, Kramarik walked us through her story.

“It’s still surreal to me. I’m not gonna lie,” she said.

From a shack in rural Illinois with her parents and brothers, to the “Oprah Winfrey Show”—when she was just 8-years-old

“My family was very, very poor. We grew up in an environment that was so nurturing and so caring. Everything around us was beautiful.”

And of course, the piece that started it all, Prince of Peace, a now famous depiction of Jesus.

“I don’t belong to any religions, I really belong to God.”

It took more than 40 hours for then 8-year-old Kramarik to finish the painting nearly twice her size.

Thousands of copies have been sold around the globe.

Now, years and hundreds of notable paintings later, she told us Prince of Peace is still her most recognized work.

The original is just now returning to view after it was taken by an agent and then, Kramarik says, “sold by mistake.”

It spent years in the dark.

“It was wrapped up underneath the stairs for many years,” Kramarik said.

It was recently recovered by her family and sold to a private collector for $850,000.

But it’s not the sale that is putting a smile on Kramarik’s face, it’s the timely gift of light.

“That was a Christmas present to me,” she said.

“It was amazing to me. To be able to see this into the light again, after so many years.”

The story is a reminder of words she works by–“Let Love Guide Your Life.”

“Love is so powerful,” she said. “It will always show up on time to people who need it most.”

Tara Molina