Who’s Laughing Now? The Getty Museum
In 2007, a unexpected bidding war erupted when a small 9 inch by 7 inch painting described as by a “follower of Rembrandt” came up for auction in the UK. The small English country auction house estimated the work would sell for $3,000. At the day of the sale, the little portrait sold for $5.2 million dollars to an anonymous phone bidder – a far cry from $3,000. Top Rembrandt experts agreed that the painting was indeed an original Rembrandt – a self portrait of the artist laughing from around 1628.
The Getty Museum Director, Timothy Potts, announced in May of 2013 that they have acquired the small painting for an undisclosed sum (experts estimate the purchase at around $30 to $40 million dollars). Along with the Rembrandt, a Canaletto has also been acquired, Grand Canal in Venice from around 1738. The two paintings represent the first major purchases of the new Getty director who was tasked by the President of the Getty Trust, James Cuno, to make ambitious purchases. The Canaletto price tag was also undisclosed but is estimated to be around $10 million dollars.
So check your basements and attics, you might have the next Old Master worth millions.