Family Learns Their Dusty Old Painting Is Worth Millions

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A New Jersey family sold an old painting for more than $1 million at an auction, completely unaware that it was a lost, sought-after piece by Dutch painter Rembrandt.

Ned, Roger and Steven Landau were cleaning out their mother's home after she passed away in 2010 when they stumbled upon the old painting, Fox Business reported. They had no idea the painting was worth any money.

The painting hung on their grandparents' dining room wall for decades. Their mother inherited the painting -- along with a few other items -- after they passed away.

As the brothers looked for items they could use for a garage sale to raise money, they found the painting.

"It was of a woman passed out in a chair, and two men trying to revive her with smelling salts," Ned said on an episode of "Strange Inheritance," the Daily Mail reports. "As a kid I thought, 'Why did we have a painting like that in our dining room?'"

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While consulting with Antiques Roadshow appraiser John Nye, the brothers were told the items they prepared for sale would probably earn them a couple of thousand dollars. Nye said he wasn't impressed with the painting at first glance, but included it in the sale anyway.

"It had varnish that had cracked and paint loss. Not a beautiful painting and the people in the picture were not beautiful people. It was remarkably unremarkable," Nye explained. "It looked like a dark, discolored portrait of three people, one of whom is passed out."

But when the painting went up for auction, a bidder from France called in to place a bid of $5,000. Another caller from Germany pushed the price up to $80,000, then it went to $100,000.

"Eventually we're at $450,000, and I said, 'Would you like to bid?'" Amy Ludlow, a colleague of Nye's wife, Kathy, who was speaking to the bidder from France, told Fox News. "He says, 'Yes, bid.' I was in disbelief.'"

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The buyer from France eventually walked away with the painting after placing a whopping $1.1 million bid. That buyer then sold the painting to a collector who was searching for the piece, which is the fourth of a five-painting series about the senses.

"They sold it for an estimated $4 million," "Strange Inheritance" host James Colby told "But the family didn't get that. That went to the people smart enough to track it down."

The painting was authenticated after the purchase. It was confirmed as being one of Rembrandt's earliest paintings and part of a lost series from the early 1600s.

The bidder form Germany explained the painting's significance while speaking to Ludlow.

"He said, 'Amy, it was a Rembrandt. I've been looking for this painting my whole adult professional career,'" Ludlow recalled.

The painting's title is "The Unconscious Patient (An Allegory of the Sense of Smell)."

Sources: Fox Business, Daily Mail, North Jersey / Featured Image: The Blue Diamond Gallery / Embedded Images: Daily Mail, Fox News via Daily Mail

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