Lost Caravaggio Painting Could Fetch $171 Million at Auction

The lost work of art is said to have been painted in 1607.

Caravaggio Masterpiece
(DeAgostini/Getty Images)

When French auctioneer Marc Labarbe requested an appraisal from Eric Turquin, an art appraiser in Paris, he never expected to be sitting, some five years later, at Colnaghi, a London gallery, waiting to auction off the work of art for over $170 million.

The painting, “Judith and Holofernes,” was created around 1607 by the Italian master painter Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio.

This summer, the painting will be auctioned off. “This is the greatest painting I’ve ever found,” the appraiser said. “It’s very violent. It’s almost unbearable. But he’s an artist who embodies the text — he makes the text living.”

The text referenced is a story from the Book of Judith found in certain versions of the Old Testament. Holofernes was a general holding the city of Bethulia under siege. Judith, a widow, seduced the general in his tent and decapitated him- which the painting depicts.

Experts are unsure what happened to the painting from the last time it might have been on display in 1689 until it was discovered in the attic of a friend of Labarbe.

“There are only 65 of his paintings in the world, and I found the 66th painting in an attic,” he told CNN. “It’s incredible, but it’s true.”

The hefty price tag is a shock to no one in the industry. Christie’s auctioned off a Leonardo Da Vinci work of art in 2017 for over $450 million dollars.

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