Society

A Leaky Roof Led One Family To A $136 Million Treasure

| by Sheena Vasani
Judith Beheading HolofernesJudith Beheading Holofernes

A leaky roof led one French family to uncover a treasure worth $136 million.

The unnamed family was repairing the home’s roof two years ago when they stumbled upon a painting that may be by 17th century artist Caravaggio and valued at $136 million, the New York Post reports.

"They had to go through the attic and break a door which they had never opened. They broke the door and behind it was that picture. It's really incredible," said Eric Turquin, who owns an art expert agency, Reuters reports.

The piece was in remarkably good condition, Turquin notes, despite likely being hidden in the attic in Toulouse for 150 years.

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Upon discovering the treasure, the family called local auctioneer, Marc Labarbe. He was the first to say it may be the famous Renaissance painter’s work.

The work features biblical heroine Judith beheading Assyrian war general Holofernes, hence its title, "Judith Beheading Holofernes." Caravaggio painted other works of the same subject, one of which is in Rome's Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica.

Louvre experts examined the recently discovered painting for weeks.

French officials placed an export ban on the painting for 30 months so authorities could study it, stating in the decree it is a piece of "great artistic value, that could be identified as a lost painting by Caravaggio.”

Art experts finally unveiled the painting April 12, sparking debates over its legitimacy.

“It was done with a single brushstroke,” said Turquin of the rendering of the blood on the Holofernes' neck. “A copier or a less talented artist wouldn’t have done it like that.”

“It has the light energy of a typical Caravaggio, without the mistakes,” he added, also pointing out that the way Holofernes’ fingernails are painted is typical of the famous painter.

"A painter is like us he has tics, and you have all the tics of Caravaggio in this. Not all of them, but many of them -- enough to be sure that this is the hand, this is the writing of this great artist," Turquin added.

Art authentication expert Annette Douay is skeptical, reports the New York Post.

“It could be a workshop copy, created by an apprentice, for example,” Douay said. “That’s why there are often disputes among experts.”

“We will never be able to definitively say if Caravaggio himself held the brush,” she added.

Sources: New York Post, Reuters via Yahoo News / Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

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