Iowa Man Finds 16th Century Otto van Veen Painting In Closet Worth Millions

Steve PopeAP Images

The director of a quaint art gallery opened by the Des Moines Women’s Club in Iowa reportedly stumbled upon a painting hidden in a closet without realizing that it was actually worth millions. According to CNN, Robert Warren was apparently looking through some of the old artwork that had been stored in the facility’s closet when he noticed an old painting that was hidden behind an antique table. The oil-on-wood painting, which featured nude mythological figures, had suffered water damage and had some cracks in a few places.

Upon closer inspection, Warren noticed that there was an auction sticker at the back of the painting. This led him to further investigate the origins of the artwork, which was reportedly just donated to the Des Moines Women’s Club when they opened the art gallery in the early 1900s. The gallery is located inside the historic Hoyt Sherman Place, the former house of the famous American banker and head of the prominent Sherman family.

It was later discovered that the sticker that Warren had noticed was actually a tag that meant the painting was previously on display at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art. A man named Nason Collins apparently owned the painting, which he had loaned to the museum temporarily before it was donated.

Art scholars who were approached by Warren for help identified the painting’s artist to be a famous 16th-century Dutch painter named Otto van Veen. The painting, titled Apollo and Venus, was believed to have been created sometime in the late 1500s. As reported by We Are Iowa, Warren initially didn’t think that the painting was of any value. He added that the painting may have been neglected due to its “sensual” nature and its portrayal of nude figures. However, experts have speculated that the painting may be worth anywhere between $4 million to $11 million based on the value of van Veen’s other works.

Warren and the gallery currently have no plans to sell the painting anytime soon. Since its discovery, the painting has been restored and placed in a new frame. The artwork was previously unveiled at a private event held just last month. Hoyt Sherman Place reportedly plans to display the painting permanently once it has updated its security.