A small oil painting, thought to be worth a mere $500, which was stored in an old attic for years has fetched a staggering $180,000 at auction.
The painting, measuring just nine inches by seven, is of a Catholic saint who was believed to be a follower of the 16th century renaissance master El Greco.
When the painting was acquired by the owner's late father in the 1970s for just a few hundred dollars he purchased it simply because he thought it was a depiction of Saint Peter, whom he shared a name with.
The lucky auction house to sell the painting, Charterhouse Auctioneers of Sherborne, gave the work an estimated sale value of around $500.
However, having advertised the painting collectors came forward to advise that the piece was worth a lot more than just $500.
Auctioneer Richard Bromell explained to the reporters.
"I rung the client after the sale and just told him it sold for ninety-eight. He asked 'what pounds?' And I told him it was £98,000. He said he needed to sit down. When he came down off the ceiling he was very, very pleased. I think if he had been offered £500 for it before the auction he would have snapped your hand off."Bromell explained that it was almost impossible to know how much the painting was worth, "We described it as by a follower of El Greco because that is what it looked like and I still think that to be the case. It was a very interesting picture and very hard to value," he said.
Bromell added, "If you asked three people the question 'how much is it worth?' you would get three different answers. One reputable gallery stopped bidding at £10,000 because that was how much they were prepared to pay for it. Obviously as least two people thought it was worth the money because the bidding just went up and up."
For that matter, it was more a stroke of luck than anything else that the painting got advertised in the right circles, "We must have advertised it well because all the right people attended the sale. On the day of the sale I thought it might go for a few thousand pounds so we were obviously delighted with the outcome," Bromell said.
[Image credit: hansen-auction.com]