Painting found in attic could fetch €150 million

Painting found in attic could fetch €150 million

Update, June 26: The painting of Judith and Holofornes featured here, believed to be a long-lost work by Caravaggio, sold two days prior to auction in Toulouse this week. The work changed hands for an undisclosed sum. It went to a foreign buyer described as "close to a major museum".

This painting of Judith and Holofernes — believed to be a long-lost work by Caravaggio — will come under the hammer next Thursday in Toulouse with an estimate of €100-€150 million.

The case for this being a work by the master is compelling, not categoric.

It was discovered by auctioneer Marc Labarbe in an attic in Toulouse five years ago. The family that owns it has lived for decades in Toulouse and descends from a Napoleonic officer who took part in the Spanish campaign from 1810-1814.

After the discovery of what was instantly recognised as an important 17th-century Italian work, Labarbe called on art appraiser Eric Turquin.

Aided by a team, they researched the work for two years. The French Ministry of Culture classified it as a major treasure, which prevented it from being taken out of the country for a period of 30 months.

The Louvre, which has three works by Caravaggio and a budget that is not limitless, eventually decided not to buy it.

There are 68 known paintings by Caravaggio, only four in private hands.

Marc Labarbe discovered an Imperial Chinese scroll in 2011 which subsequently sold for €22m.

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