A Man Who Bought a Painting for $500 in a Bar Says It’s a $30 Million Rembrandt—But Experts Say It’s Really a Case of Wishful Thinking
The new owner wants to sell the work and use the money to invest in his favorite soccer team.
A sympathetic barfly who bought a panting from a down-and-out stranger believes his good deed will pay off big time. He claims the €500 ($560) painting of Jesus that he bought off a stranger at a bar near Liège could be a lost Rembrandt worth €30 million ($33 million). Unfortunately, the feel-good tale might be too good to be true.
The businessman from Verviers in Belgium declined to give his full name and told local press to call him “Mr. Jo.” He says he bought the work off a stranger who explained that he was buried in debt and asked for €500 for the painting, called Ecce Homo (no relation to the botched Beast Jesus fresco of the same name). Mr. Jo says he took pity on the man and forked over the cash to help him out.
The anonymous patron says he displayed the work in his home for a spate, until an art-savvy friend suggested he get it evaluated by an expert. Mr. Jo says he had it examined several times after specialists noticed similarities in technique to Rembrandt. Soon enough, he claims, a member of the Belgian Chamber of Art Experts attributed it to the Dutch Golden Age painter, and reportedly valued the “exceptional” work at over €30 million. Mr. Jo says he plans to sell the work and use the money to invest in his favorite soccer club.
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