Rembrandt work unseen for 40 years to be sold





The year was 1968 and as revolutionary fervour spread around the world a group of students stormed the president’s office at Columbia University in New York.

Fortunately these were sensible Ivy League radicals and their iconoclasm had its limits. Before things got out of hand they allowed two police officers in to remove the magnificent Rembrandt portrait hanging on the wall.

It disappeared into storage and a few years later was sold privately to a collector who never showed it publicly.

But now the painting is up for auction for the first time since 1930 and Christie’s fully expects it to command the same respect with billionaire art collectors as it did with hippy radicals.

Portrait of a man, half-length, with his arms akimbo has a price estimate of £18-£25 million, the highest placed on an Old Master work.

It is a bold statement of intent at a time when much of the headline-grabbing fizz has gone out of the art market but Paul Raison, head of Old Masters at Christie’s in London, said that the auction house was “very confident about our market”.

The world record for an Old Master at auction was set at Sotheby’s in 2002 when bidding on Peter Paul Rubens’s The Massacre of the Innocents raced away from the estimate of £4-6m to sell for an eventual £49,506,648. The nearest price realised before or since is £20,489,143 for a Turner in 2006. The most raised by a Rembrandt is £19,800,000.



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