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Lot 403--painting offered for song goes for bomb

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Penny
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« on: July 22, 2007, 01:58:29 am »

Lot 403--painting offered for song goes for bomb
By Jeremy Lovell
Wed Jul 18, 1:22 PM ET

 


LONDON (Reuters) - It entered the auction as an 18th century painting by an unknown artist worth a few hundred pounds, but emerged as a suspected early work by Renaissance master Titian possibly worth several million.

 
Lot 403 in the sale by small family auctioneer Gilding's of Market Harborough in central England has become the buzz of the art world since it sold for 205,000 pounds ($420,000) amid fierce bidding on July 10.

"I have not seen the painting in the flesh, but I have seen a digital image of it and it looks like an early Titian to me from around 1512 or 1515," said Old Master dealer and art expert Simon Dickinson.

"The way the shirt and the face are painted -- it is just the way he would have painted them," he told Reuters on Wednesday.

The oil-on-canvas picture is a very dark waist-length three-quarter profile picture of a bearded man.

"The value will depend on the condition," Dickinson said. "If it is in good condition it could be worth five million pounds or more. If it is in a poor state it might only be 800,000 to one million.

"I have no idea who has got it. I have called everyone I know and have drawn a blank," he added.

Auctioneer Mark Gilding said the painting, which entered the sale described as "18th Century Continental School, Half-length portrait of Aesthete" priced at 300-500 pounds, had been acquired by someone in the London art trade.

He refused to give any details.

It was offered for sale by a local woman who bought it as part of a house clearance sale in 1974 and had it hanging on her wall for the past 33 years, oblivious of its possible worth.

Asked how she felt about the dramatic turn of events, Gilding replied: "She is very happy with the result."

Dickinson observed that if the picture does indeed turn into a true Titian the woman might be justified in feeling a little put out.

But he added: "This just shows what is possible. I have no doubt there will be other undiscovered master works out there. It is just a matter of striking it lucky."
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