UK Based Rembrandt Worth $54 Million May Have Export License Completely Withdrawn

Will this Rembrandt masterpiece stay in Britain, after all?

Rembrandt, Portrait of Catrina Hooghsaet (1657). Courtesy of the UK Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

A Rembrandt painting, entitled Portrait of Catrina Hooghsaet (1657), on which the UK government placed a temporary export ban two weeks ago, may have its export license application completely withdrawn.

The painting, worth $54 million and considered one of the Dutch master’s most accomplished portraits, is at risk of leaving the UK, where is has been for 250 years, since its potential buyer is an overseas bidder.

According to a spokeswoman from Sotheby’s London, the auction house brokering the sale, “the prospective buyer is considering a loan to a UK institution so that the painting can be further enjoyed by the British public,” the Guardian reports. “If these intentions materialize, that will mean, of course, that the picture will remain—for some time to come—in the UK, very possibly on view to the public, and that no funds will need to be raised in order to make that happen,” she added.

Ed Vaizey Via: DCMS

Ed Vaizey

However, the Art Fund, a national fundraising charity for the arts—which was about to launch a fundraising campaign to keep the painting in the UK, which has now been called off—has said they feel the painting’s future remains “perilously unsafe.”

In a statement, quoted in the Guardian, the charity said:

By mounting a public appeal at this critical point, the Art Fund had aimed to ensure that this masterpiece could be acquired by a UK public collection, and at a favorable price: net of tax the price had been agreed at [about] £22.5m [$34 million]. Indeed, significant funds from charitable sources had already been raised since the 16 October announcement (of the temporary export ban).

The Art Fund is deeply concerned by this turn of events, and will leave no stone unturned in our efforts to ensure that the public interest is better served, in this and in other matters concerning the protection of our national cultural heritage.

The painting, which is being sold by the trustees of the Penrhyn Settled Estates, was originally bought for the National Trust’s Penrhyn Castle in North Wales back in 1860, where it was on display for a long time. The work has most recently been on view at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.

The work was also displayed last year in the “Rembrandt: The Late Works” exhibition at London’s National Gallery, which then toured to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

This is the third Rembrandt portrait embroiled in an export controversy in the last few months. France is currently immersed in negotiations to avoid losing at least one of the two Rembrandt portraits owned by Eric de Rothschild and worth $180 million that might be at risk of leaving the country.

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