Elderly Woman Discovers She Had $26 Million Painting In Her Kitchen

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Dana Abizaid Contributor
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Four years after a famous 13th century painting was found in an elderly French woman’s kitchen, the $26 million masterpiece is heading to the Louvre Museum in Paris, ABC15 News reported.

The painting, titled “The Mocking of Christ,” was the work of Italian artist Cimabue and was not discovered until 2019 when appraisers arrived at the woman’s house in Compiegne, France, according to ABC15.

Apparently, the woman believed the painting was a Greek religious icon and planned on tossing it out after she began clearing her house before a move, The Guardian reported. Fortunately, when family members called in an expert to appraise the woman’s property, the painting caught the expert’s eye, according to Smithsonian Magazine. (RELATED: Police Recover 500-Year-Old Stolen Leonardo Da Vinci Painting Of Jesus In Italy)


Although the painting sold for $26 million to the London-based dealer Fabrizio Moretti at auction in 2019, the French government blocked its export, assigning it as a “national treasure” which kept it in France for 30 months, ABC15 reported. The 30 months gave the government time to raise the funds to buy it for the nation, the outlet reported.

“These acquisitions are the result of an exceptional mobilization of the Louvre museum, which allows to preserve in France works coveted by the greatest museums of the world and to make them accessible to all,” France’s culture ministry said in a statement.

“In the 1280s, “The Derision of Christ” became an exception on the artistic scene and positioned itself at the forefront of Western Painting,” the Louvre said in a news release. “This work allows us to take a new look at the artist who, for the first time, abandoned the ‘Greek Manner,’ that is to say Byzantine, opening the way for a renaissance of Western painting.”

The elderly woman who had the painting hanging in her kitchen died just two days after the sale, leaving her estate to her three heirs, Smithsonian Magazine reported.

At an exhibition opening next spring, the Louvre will display the piece along with Cimabue’s Maestà, according to Smithsonian Magazine.