A recently reattributed Caravaggio’s masterpiece was sold in a private sale two days to an anonymous buyer before it was scheduled to be sold at an auction in Toulouse with an estimate of €100m-150m. A latest source revealed that the painting might have been bought by the well-known US collector J. Tomilson Hill.
The artwork, which is believed to be Caravaggio's original Judith and Holofernes, depicts the biblical scene of the Jewish widow Judith beheading the drunken Assyrian general Holofernes.
The painting was set to go under the hammer on Thursday for €100m-150m, which would become an auction record for the Baroque master. But auctioneers Marc Labarbe and Eric Turquin announced that the painting had sold to a collector outside France ahead of the auction. They didn not reveal the identity of the buyer nor the price sold due to a confidentiality agreement. The only piece of information that we know is that the buyer is connected to a "major museum" and bought the painting with the stipulation that it will be exhibited in a museum outside of France. (For more information about the painting and the sale, check out: US$170m Long-Lost Caravaggio Painting Sold Privately To Mystery Buyer Ahead of Auction in France)
According to a person with knowledge of the sale, the buyer is the American billionaire hedge fund manager and art collector J. Tomilson Hill, who is universally known as Tom Hill. Hill serves on the board of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and opened the Hill Art Foundation in February in Manhattan with his wife to show their collection of Old Master paintings, Renaissance and Baroque bronzes, and Modern and contemporary art.
Eric Turquin states that the painting is a real Caravaggio work
Judith and Holofernes was discovered in an attic at Toulouse, France
There have been mixed opinions on the authenticity of the painting. The painting was discovered in an attic in Toulouse five years ago by Marc Labarbe when the family called him in to investigate the canvas. A series of investigation and studies have since been carried out to prove its authenticity. Eric Turquin, an appraiser and auctioneer in Paris, said tests have confirmed that the work's paint pigments matched what Caravaggio used.
Keith Christiansen, a curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, is one of those who have confirmed the painting’s authenticity. He wrote in a report that the group believed the painting was a Caravaggio, despite one area where the execution was untypical, which is possibly some finishing touches by a second artist.
While some have doubts about the attribution, the buyer is one of the believers that the painting should join a group of 68 Caravaggio paintings, five of which are now in private hands.