Constable painting sells for £3.5m just 18 months after selling for £3,500

Sotheby's gets one up on Christie's after the latest New York bidding war

A John Constable painting has sold at auction for almost £3.5 million, just eighteen months after it was bought for £3,500.

Christie’s valued the piece at a far lower price in 2013 after believing it to the work of a fan, but Constable authority Anne Lyles later confirmed that it was in fact by the Suffolk master himself.

Close inspection and careful cleaning revealed that amateur restorers had painted over the authentic piece, believed to be one of Constable’s 1830 sketches for the £23 million artwork, “Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows”, that now hangs in London’s Tate.

The piece was sold to an anonymous buyer after a fierce bidding war, with Sotheby’s describing the result as “wonderful”.

 

The artwork was given an estimate of between £1.3 and £1.9 million by Sotheby’s in New York, and some experts believe Lady Hambleden, the owner who sold it to Christie’s will now have a case to sue.

“We are aware that Sotheby’s are offering this work as by Constable,” Christie’s said in a statement prior to the auction.

“We took the view at the time of our sale in 2013 that it was by a “follower of”. We understand that there is no clear consensus of expertise on the new attribution.”

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