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BREAKING – Caravaggio auction cancelled – Painting sold to mystery foreign buyer

June 25, 2019

Judith and Holofernes, c.1607.
Oil on canvas: 56 11/16 x 68 5/16 in.

ArtNews, citing a Reuters report, says the Judith and Holofernes by Caravaggio discovered in a French attic in 2014 has been sold privately and that the Thursday, June 27, 2019 auction of the picture in Toulouse has been cancelled. This is a stunning development in the extraordinary five year saga of this picture. Now the guessing game begins about the identity of the buyer (UPDATE: The New York Times and other media outlets report the buyer is J. Tomilson Hill).

According to the ArtNews article:

Reuters reported on Tuesday that Marc Labarbe, an auction house in Toulouse, France, has called off its planned auction of the Caravaggio painting Judith and Holofernes (1607), which had been given an estimate of €150 million ($170 million). The sale was planned for Thursday, and it was expected to set a new auction record for the Italian master.

According to Marc Labarbe, the painting “sold privately to a foreign buyer.” Citing a confidentiality agreement, the auction house declined to offer the name of the buyer or the price for which the work sold.

The cancelation of the auction marks yet another strange development in a sale that already had been shrouded in mystery. Judith and Holofernes was rediscovered in an attic in 2014, in the Toulouse home of one of Labarbe’s friends, and it has since become the subject of intrigue.

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