An old painting discovered in a French elderly woman’s kitchen, who saw it as an emblem of little value, made her a multimillionaire.
The painting, a masterpiece attributed to the Italian painter Cimabue of the 13th century who was discovered earlier this year, sold on Sunday for € 24 million ($26.6 million).
Dominique Le Coent of Acteon Auction House, who was part of the team who sold the masterpiece to an anonymous buyer near Chantilly, north of Paris, said the sale was a “world record for a primitive, or a pre-1500 work.”
“It’s a painting that was unique, splendid and monumental. Cimabue was the father of the Renaissance. But this sale goes beyond all our dreams,” Le Coent told The Associated Press.
In June, while inspecting a woman’s house in Compiegne in northern France, an auctioneer spotted the painting and suggested bringing it to experts for evaluation. It hung from the kitchen to the dining room on a wall.
The woman will now receive “the majority” of the sale money, the auction house said.
The selling price predicted was 4 million to 6 million euros (4.4 million to 6.6 million dollars).
Le Coent said there were experts off the mark because it was the first time that a Cimabue had ever gone under the hammer.
“There’s never been a Cimabue painting on sale so there was no reference previously on how much it could make,” he explained.
Art experts say that Cimabue painted about 1280, of which two other panels were shown at the Frick Collection in New York and the National Gallery in London, is likely part of a larger diptych.
The discovery of the artwork has sent ripples of anticipation through the world of art.
Cimabue, who taught Italian master Giotto, is widely considered the forefather of the Italian Renaissance.
He broke from the Byzantine style common in the Middle Ages and started to integrate movement and perspective elements that characterized Western art.
The painting was initially studied by experts at the Turkin Gallery in Paris and concluded with “certitude” that it bore Cimabu’s hallmarks.
Stephane Pinta, an art expert with the Turquin, pointed to similarities in facial expressions and buildings, as well as the painter’s brilliance in conveying light and distance.