Great Britain Closer to Keeping van Dyck Self Portrait

Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, photographed alongside Anthony van Dyck self portrait. Photo: Jorge Herrera, courtesy National Portrait Gallery.

Great Britain’s efforts to prevent Anthony van Dyck‘s last self-portrait from leaving the country may just pay off. According to reports from the Telegraph and the Guardian, a billionaire buyer has backed off thanks to national pressure, and the National Portrait Gallery will now have the chance to add the work to its collection.

The painting had been in the family of the Earl of Jersey for 300 years before it was purchased by Canadian businessman and collector Alfred Bader and the London art dealer Philip Mould for £8.3 million ($13.8 million) in 2009.

When British billionaire James Stunt agreed to buy the painting for £12.5 million ($20.8 million), the British government issued a temporary export ban to keep the portrait in the UK. Stunt had planned to display the portrait at Candyland, the 123-room Los Angeles mansion he owns with his wife, socialite and fashion designer Petra Ecclestone (daughter of Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone).

A five-month campaign by the museum hoping to match Stunt’s offer has already raised £3.6 million ($6 million), with 8,000 individual donors and a major contributions from the Art Fund and the Monument Trust. Kate Middleton, the Dutchess of Cambridge and a patron of the National Portrait Gallery, was photographed alongside the piece in an attempt to publicize the fundraising efforts.

Now, citing “the people’s passion to purchase the van Dyck for the nation,” Stunt has withdrawn his bid, and Mould has agreed to lower the painting’s price to £10m ($16.6 million), giving the National Portrait Gallery until July 20 to raise the additional funds to purchase the painting.

While van Dyck was Flemish, the artist served as England’s leading court painter during the time of Charles I. The painting in question was completed shortly before the artist’s death in 1641.

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