How much is Leonardo's 'Lady with an Ermine' worth? (ctd.)

January 5 2017

Image of How much is Leonardo's 'Lady with an Ermine' worth? (ctd.)

Picture: Czartoryski Foundation

Well, we'll never know, because the Czartoryski collection - of which Leonardo's Lady with an Ermine forms a part - has been signed over to the Polish state in its entirety for €100m. Prince Adam Czartoryski declared that he 'felt like making a donation', and agreed to sell his family collection - which includes works by Rembrandt and many others - to the Polish government. The Czartoryski Foundation's board has resigned in protest. More here.

The €100m figure is of course a fraction of what the collection is worth on the international market. But arguably Prince Adam Czartoryski was unlikely to ever realise anything like the collection's full value, if indeed a sale had ever been contemplated. The Polish government could have made the question of exporting works such as the Leonardo almost impossible, thus confining any sale to within Poland itself. Although theoretically there is an interesting test case waiting to be taken to the EU courts on whether individual member states can stop someone exporting a work of art under the European Convention on Human Rights (the main one being the freedom to enjoy one's possessions). 

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