Saved! The 100m masterpieces

Aristocrat has change of heart over sale of five Poussin paintings of the sacraments that have been in his family since 1785
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The Independent Online

Five Poussin masterpieces worth 100m have been saved for the nation after a last-minute decision by the owner not to sell them, it will be announced tomorrow.

According to The Art Newspaper, the Duke of Rutland, whose family has owned the works since 1785, has withdrawn the paintings of the sacraments from sale "for family reasons". The National Gallery had launched a public appeal to raise 50m to help it purchase Confirmation, Eucharist, Extreme Unction, Marriage and Ordination. Few, however, held much hope that such a vast sum could be raised and it was feared that the series would be lost to public view.

The Duke said: "The Poussins will stay at the National Gallery for the next three to five years; at some point we might bring them back to Belvoir Castle [the ancestral seat in Leicestershire]. They are certainly not going on the market in the foreseeable future."

The ownership of valuable works is governed by complicated tax rules. Inheritance tax is not payable if the works are on public display, but if the art is sold subsequently it does become liable. On the other hand, a recent change in the law to family trusts made it less attractive for aristocrats to hold on to paintings.