Neglected painting is 'probably' a £35 million Raphael

The painting revealed

A grimy painting at a National Trust house has been revealed as a Raphael, worth a jaw-dropping £35 million.

The Virgin Mary, at Haddo House, Methlick, was spotted by historian Bendor Grosvenor, who was there to inspect some other paintings for a new BBC series called Britain's Lost Masterpieces.

In 1899, the sixteenth-century painting was bought for £20 - around £2,000 in today's money - by George Hamilton-Gordon, the 4th Earl of Aberdeen and prime minister between 1852 and 1855.

It was bought as a genuine Raphael, but was later attributed to a minor Renaissance artist, Innocenzo da Imola, and tucked away high up over a door.

"I thought, crikey, it looks like a Raphael. It was very dirty under old varnish, which goes yellow," Grosvenor tells the Guardian.

"Being an anorak, I go round houses like this with binoculars and torches. If I hadn't done that, I'd probably have walked past it."

The painting was cleaned up, revealing an alteration in one of the fingers, which shows that it was an original creative work rather than a copy. The model also resembles the woman used by Raphael for other works.

In the programme, Sir Nicholas Penny, former director of the National Gallery, describes the painting as 'very beautiful' and says he leans towards it being the real thing. However, it'll need to be examined by experts to be sure.

The most recent work by Raphael to change hands, the Madonna of the Pinks, sold for £35 million in 2004.

The painting has now been given pride of place in Haddo House's dining room.

Valuable paintings are regularly uncovered by television programmes, showing just how many lost masterpieces there may be out there.

Last month, for example, a lost portrait of a child by Willem de Kooning was discovered on the BBC's Fake or Fortune show and valued at around £50,000.

Last year, a set of Lowry sketches came to light on the Antiques Roadshow and were valued at £500,000; and a year before, in one of the show's most astonishing discoveries, a painting was identified as a Van Dyck - although it later failed to sell at auction.

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The Henry Graves Supercomplication was commissioned in 1925, and took eight years to make.

The world's most expensive stamp sold at auction in 2014 for over $9 million.

The British Guiana One-Cent Magenta is as rare as a stamp can get. British Guiana was one of the first countries in the New World to start issuing stamps, but in 1856, they ran out, and asked the local newspaper printer to produce extras.

There were two denominations: the four-cent, which is very rare, and the one-cent - of which only one has ever been discovered.

In May 2015, an anonymous London businesswoman snapped up the licence plate KR15 HNA for £233,000, making it the most expensive standard number plate ever to be sold in the UK.

Queen Victoria's bloomers sold at auction for £6,200, along with a pair of her silk stockings.

They have a 52-inch waist, and belonged to the monarch in the 1890s - "towards the end of her life when she had eaten a lot more than most people could afford to," said auctioneer Michael Hogben. In today's sizing, they'd be a size 26.

In 2014, a three-year-old slice of cake sold at auction for $7,500 (£4,800). The reason the stale cake was in such demand was that it was from the marriage of Prince William to Kate Middleton in 2011.

The buyer said he intended to give it away as part of promoting his Silicon Valley start-up.

A British coin sold at auction for a record-breaking £430,000 in 2014. After fees, the buyer paid £516,000 - making it the most expensive modern British coin ever to be sold.

The coin is only one of two in existence. It was a 'proof' for a gold sovereign which was meant to be produced to commemorate the coronation of Edward VIII in 1937. However, Edward abdicated in 1936, so the coronation never happened and the coins were never made


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