Church of England sells Zurburans for £15m

March 31 2011

Image of Church of England sells Zurburans for £15m

The Church of England has sold its series of paintings by Francisco Zurburan to a financier for £15 million. The twelve pictures have been at Auckland Castle, home to the Bishop of Durham, since 1756, and represent Jacob and his twelve sons (the 13th painting, Benjamin, is by Arthur Pond).

The financier, Jonathan Ruffer, has decided to immediately give the paintings back so that they can remain at Auckland Castle in perpetuity. This is quite an amazing gift. Read the Spectator's interview with him here. See more of the pictures here.

The happy ending should not, however, blind us to the fact that the Church of England Commissioners are prepared to sell off some of the most important parts of our national heritage. Have the Commissioners got the balance right between protecting the Church's heritage, and continuing the Church's mission?

PS - the paintings cost Bishop Trevor £124 in 1756. Clever Trevor.

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