Mystery buyer saves Gainsborough

NEITHER Christie's nor the Royal Holloway College was yesterday able to confirm rumours from several sources that a private collector has bought a Gainsborough that was to have been sold at auction in December.

It is believed that a British businessman has offered pounds 3.5m for Peasants Going to Market - pounds 1m more than many expected it to fetch at auction.

It is also understood that the buyer has agreed to share the painting's display between the college, in Surrey, and various British public galleries. This would be welcomed by the many who have bitterly criticised the college for ignoring the wishes of the college's founder, the Victorian philanthropist Thomas Holloway. The Gainsborough was bought for the college in 1883.

A spokesman for the Museums and Galleries Commission said: 'While we deplore the sale of works of art by a public institution, against the wishes of a benefactor, we are relieved a British businessman has stepped forward to save the picture for the nation.'

The buyer is said to insist on anonymity. However, a spokesman for the college said: 'We have nothing to say. When we have . . . we will be in touch. At the moment, it is down for auction at Christie's' Christie's also insisted that the sale is still scheduled for December.

The Gainsborough is the second of three pictures that the college is selling to raise funds for the restoration and upkeep of the college's Grade I listed Founder's Building in Egham, Surrey.

Last February, it sold Turner's Van Tromp Going About to Please His Masters, Ships at Sea, Getting a Good Wetting. It went to the Getty Museum in California for a record pounds 11m. A Constable is also earmarked for sale.

One opponent of the sales said that in 1990, the college asked the Charity Commission to allow sales of three pictures, to raise at least pounds 15m. Through selling two pictures, he explained, they have raised pounds 14.5m. 'For them to go ahead and sell the third picture, having raised almost that sum, is a scandal. When they have sold the Constable, they will still need more . . . This is a terrible breach of trust.'

Only 4 per cent of the 6,500 items sold through Sotheby's by the Princess von Thurn und Taxis at Schloss St Emmeram, Regensburg, Germany, failed to sell. The sale totalled DM 31.4m ( pounds 12.87m), twice the amount expected. The most expensive item was a painting by Olga Wisinger-Florian, an Austrian Impressionist, which made pounds 139,113 (estimate pounds 12,000- pounds 18,000).

The winner of the pounds 20,000 John Moores Liverpool biennial open art prize is Peter Doig, 34.

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
musicOfficial chart could be moved to accommodate Friday international release day
Sport
Wes Brown is sent-off
football
News
i100
Sport
Italy celebrate scoring their second try
six nations
Sport
Glenn Murray celebrates scoring against West Ham
footballWest Ham 1 Crystal Palace 3
Arts and Entertainment
Drake continues to tease ahead of the release of his new album
music
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper / Office Co-ordinator

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...

Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Day In a Page

Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review