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Painting heading to the trash in 90-year-old's house turns out to be a masterpiece worth $26 million

The painting was casually hanging in the kitchen of an elderly woman who was intending to throw it away.

Painting heading to the trash in 90-year-old's house turns out to be a masterpiece worth $26 million
Representative Cover Image Source: Pexels I Photo by Filipp Romanovski

Art often appears in unexpected places. Recently, a 90-year-old French woman discovered a 13th-century masterpiece in her kitchen. Believing it was junk, she almost threw it away. Fortunately, her family consulted an expert who revealed it was worth millions, reported Modern Met

Representative Image Source: A visitor looks at the painting named 'The Flagellation of Christ' by Matthias Stom during the press opening of the exhibition 'Caravaggio and the Painters of the North' at the Thyssen Bornemisza Museum on June 20, 2016 in Madrid, Spain. The exhibition will be open to public from June 21 to September 18, 2016. (Photo by Quim Llenas/Getty Images)
Representative Image Source: A visitor looks at the painting during the press opening of the exhibition 'Caravaggio and the Painters of the North' at the Thyssen Bornemisza Museum on June 20, 2016, in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Quim Llenas/Getty Images)

The discovery dates back to 2019 when the elderly woman was clearing her home before moving. Unaware of the painting's value, she intended to discard it until her family informed her of its potential worth. They called an expert, who noticed the unusual depiction of Christ surrounded by people and revealed it could be worth millions.

What made the discovery even more interesting was the true identity of the painting. The family was informed that the piece of art was a long-lost painting named "Christ Mocked" by Cimabue, a prolific Italian painter from the 13th century. Cimabue was born in Florence around 1240 and used to work under the pseudonym of "Cenni di Pepo." Apart from being a prominent art figure, it has been said that he was also the teacher of the celebrated artist Giotto. Only 15 of his paintings are known to exist today, making "Christ Mocked" a rare find.

Image Source: Inauguration of the exhibition
Representative Image Source: Inauguration of the exhibition "From Cimabue To Morandi" by Genus Bononiae Foundation at Palazzo Fava on February 13, 2015, in Bologna, Italy. (Photo by Roberto Serra - Iguana Press/Getty Images)

The painting got its name because it is part of an eight-part diptych that shows eight scenes depicting the crucifixion and passion of Christ. Other than "Christ Mocked," only two other pieces from the diptych are accounted for. 

The 13th-century masterpiece was sent for auction in 2019 when a London-based dealer, Fabrizio Moretti, acquired it with an offer of €24.2 million ($26.8 million). The expensive bids drew the attention of the French government, which declared this piece of art a "national treasure." This meant that the painting could not leave the country for 30 months. This move gave the Louvre Museum in Paris time to raise funds to purchase the painting from Moretti.



 

After the deal, France's cultural ministry said in a statement, "These acquisitions are the result of an exceptional mobilization of the Louvre museum, which allows to preserve in France works coveted by the greatest museums of the world and to make them accessible to all," per Smithsonian Magazine. For art enthusiasts, this historic painting will be up for display in the Louvre Museum from early 2025. 

Image Source: The Louvre museum is pictured at dusk on March 05, 2024 in Paris, France. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
Image Source: The Louvre Museum is pictured at dusk on March 05, 2024, in Paris, France. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

 



 

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