A SPANISH family were stunned to find a family heirloom was a genuine work by Baroque master painter, Anthony Van Dyck.
The painting, ‘Presentation of the Baby Jesus to Saint Barbara’, is expected to be worth between €5 million and €13 million.
According to the owner’s lawyer, the family, from Jaen, had ‘no idea’ the painting was so valuable.
“They saw it as something normal, a part of their daily lives,” revealed Luis Baena, this week.
He added the family are not interested in money and their only wish is that the painting ‘stays in Sevilla’.
After a Madrid-based art valuation firm verified the painting’s authenticity, the family had offers from auction houses worldwide, including Sothebys, in London.
However, the family have so far ignored the offers, writing directly to the Andalucian Ministry of Culture offering the painting to them.
They hope the Sevilla Museum of Fine Arts will take the painting due to their ‘special connection’ with the city.
“The owner of the painting has no intention of speculating, but they do have a special interest in it staying in Sevilla,” he told El Pais.
It is believed the painting could have arrived in Jaen during the 17th century when hundreds of Flemish families lived in Sevilla.
Over four centuries later, the canvas had significant signs of wear and was restored by a team of Andalucian experts.
Van Dyck was a leader of the so-called Baroque movement and is well known as the first English court painter.
He is also famed for his portraits of nobility and his biblical and mythological paintings.
The painting is currently under lock and key in the family’s safe. The owner says they will accept ‘a fair and reasonable price’ for the painting.
Although the Museum of Fine Art has stated their interest, the future of the masterpiece is not confirmed.
It comes just a year after a British art historian discovered a painting he had bought for £60 was actually a Van Dyck. The owner of this painting also decided to donate the painting locally and it now hangs in the Cannon Hall Museum, Barnsley.