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Painting hanging in a 90-year-old's kitchen turns out to be a masterpiece worth $26 million

The elderly woman was going to throw the painting that was hanging above a hot plate in her kitchen.

Painting hanging in a 90-year-old's kitchen turns out to be a masterpiece worth $26 million
Cover Image Source: Louvre Museum

Have you ever imagined that one of the artworks lying around in your house could be thousands of dollars? That's what happened to a 90-year-old French woman who was planning to throw away an art piece hanging on her kitchen wall. Thankfully, her children advised her against it. The painting went up for auction, but the French government did not allow it to leave the country, calling it a "national treasure" and later placing it in the Louvre Museum, reports My Modern Met.

Representative Image Source: Pexels | Romka
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Romka

The woman was clearing out her house before a move four years ago and initially thought of throwing the painting away. It shows Jesus Christ surrounded by a group of people and had reportedly been hanging above her hot plate for years. The elderly woman had no idea how exclusive this piece was. Her family asked an art appraiser to look at the artwork and tell them its actual value. It turns out that it was a painting by an Italian painter called Cimabue from the 13th century, valued at hundreds of thousands of dollars. He is said to be one of the last artists who used the Byzantine style for his artwork. It was a style well-known in parts of Eurasia in the 1450s.

However, the woman did not remember where she got the piece and thought it was a Greek religious icon, reports CNN. This specific painting is called "Christ Mocked" and is part of an eight-part diptych that shows Christ's crucifixion and passion. Other than this artwork, only two other diptychs have been accounted for, which makes it even more valued. Eric Turquin, a Paris-based specialist who was called in to authenticate the painting, said, “We could have no doubts on the [Cimabue] attribution since this picture is clearly part of the same [altarpiece],” according to Artnet. He added that the painting had the exact same dimensions, style and hue as the other two paintings of the renowned artist.


The painting was sent for an auction in 2019 and a London-based dealer, Fabrizio Moretti, bought it for €24.2 million ($26.8 million). Moretti had said that he purchased the painting on behalf of two collectors. "It's one of the most important old master discoveries in the last 15 years. Cimabue is the beginning of everything. He started modern art. When I held the picture in my hands, I almost cried," Moretti said to The New York Times. After knowing the bid placed on the art piece, the French Government called it a "national treasure" and did not allow it to leave the country for 30 months.

Although Moretti was unhappy about it, the Louvre had time to raise funds to purchase the painting. France's cultural ministry said in a statement, "These acquisitions are the result of an exceptional mobilization of the Louvre museum, which allows to preserve in France works coveted by the greatest museums of the world and to make them accessible to all," per CNN. Soon, the painting will be up for public display in Spring in the Louvre Museum with other artworks of Cimabue.


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