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Elderly Woman Unknowingly Owned ‘Mocking of Christ’ Painting, Just Sold for $27 Million

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A painting that depicts the last moments in the life of Jesus Christ has sold for a staggering $27 million.


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written by

Will Maule

The 13th-century masterpiece by Florentine artist, Cimabue, was discovered hanging in an elderly French woman’s kitchen. Experts say it was in almost perfect condition, despite needing a thorough clean—the painting was coated in grime having been hung above the lady’s cooking stove for a number of years.

It is not known how the woman, now living in a retirement home, came across the precious piece. According to a report in the Telegraph, she did not know its worth and believed it was simply an “old religious icon.”

Dominique Le Coënt-de-Beaulieu of the Actéon auction house announced that the sale price was “a world record” for a painting that dates prior to 1500. While the exact date is unknown, it is thought to have been completed around 1280.

Experts only valued the piece, a first of Cimabue’s to be auctioned, at around 5 million euros.

“There was no reference previously on how much it could fetch,” Le Coënt-de-Beaulieu explained. “It’s a painting that is unique, splendid and monumental. Cimabue was the father of the Renaissance but this sale goes beyond all our dreams.” 

“It’s very important and Cimabue paintings are so rare—this is the beginning of modern painting,” added Paris-based dealer Giovanni Sarti, suggesting that the piece should be protected by the French state

“We have one Cimabue [The Madonna and Child in Majesty Surrounded by Angels in the Louvre] but still it would be very good to have another,” he added to the Art Newspaper.