One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. This was the case for an Anthony van Dyck painting that was left abandoned in a farm shed covered in bird droppings, but recently sold at auction for more than $3 million.
The auction was conducted by Sotheby’s, the New York auction house, which said that the painting is a live study by the Flemish 17th-century painter.
The study portrays a nude older man with a beard sitting on a stool.
The art piece is believed to be a study for Van Dyck’s famous painting “Saint Jerome with an Angel,” which is currently held by the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen in Rotterdam. For a time, the recently sold painting was shown alongside van Dyck’s more famous sketch.
The auction house shared it is unique due to it being one of only two studies that van Dyck made using live models. The painting is over 400 years old, with Sotheby’s saying it was painted between 1615 and 1618.
The $3 million piece of art is an oil painting and wasn’t known to be a work of van Dyck until recently, CNN reported. It wasn’t even found until the late 20th century in a farm shed in Kinderhook, New York.
“The person who found it, Albert B. Roberts, was a passionate collector of ‘lost’ pieces, describing his collection as ‘an orphanage for lost art that had suffered from neglect,’” the auction house told CNN in a statement.
The auction house shared that Roberts had spent $600 on the painting being able to recognize how important it was.
The painting was sold on Thursday for a total of $3.1 million after Roberts’ estate offered it to the auction house.
A portion of the proceeds from the paintings sale has been given to the Albert B. Roberts Foundation Inc. Sotheby’s shared that the foundation provides financial support to artists and other charities.