From £3m to £12m to £17.5m - Watteau continues to Surprise

June 7 2011

Image of From £3m to £12m to £17.5m - Watteau continues to Surprise

Picture: Christie's

The government has put a temporary export bar on Watteau's La Surprise. The picture, which was an exciting new discovery when first sold at Christie's in July 2008, is priced at £17.5m, should any public galleries be interested in raising the funds to buy it.

Thought to have been lost for over 200 years, the picture was estimated by Christie's at £3-5m in 2008. It sold for £12.3m (inc. premium).  

Of course, with today's non-existent acquisition budgets, you have to wonder whether the whole process is something of a charade. I'll eat my trousers if any museum raises the money to buy it - so what, really, is the point in pretending we might be able to stop the picture being exported?

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