LONDON (AFP) - A lost Van Dyck painting spotted on a British television programme failed to find a buyer at a Tuesday auction despite estimates it would fetch 1,000 times its original price.
Auctioneers Christie’s had estimated the sketch for the 1635 work The Magistrates Of Brussels would sell for between £300,000 and £500,000 (S$639,000 to S$1.06 million), but it did not find a buyer.
It had originally been bought for £400 from an antiques shop in Cheshire, northern England, by Catholic priest Father Jamie MacLeod.
In December, MacLeod took the bargain painting onto Antiques Roadshow, a BBC television programme on which hopeful antique hunters have their purchases valued by experts.
The host of the show, Fiona Bruce, had been making a show about the Flemish artist Anthony Van Dyck and brought the priest’s painting to the attention of one of the experts, having seen it and thought it was genuine.
Christie’s said the sketch had largely been obscured by overpainting, and as a result had been overlooked by Van Dyck scholars.
After a long period of cleaning and restoration, the masterpiece was pronounced genuine by Christopher Brown, one of the world’s authorities on Van Dyck, an artist who was born in modern-day Belgium and came to work in England in 1632 at the invitation of King Charles I.
Other paintings that sold at the auction of Old Master works included a painting of Venice by Francesco Guardi that sold for US$17 million and “Saint Praxedis” by Johannes Vermeer, which sold for $10.7 million. All buyers were anonymous.
The priest had planned to use funds from the sale to buy new church bells for a retreat he runs in Derbyshire, northern England, to commemorate the centenary of the end of World War I.