Cottage for sale at £500,000 could be hiding a £1m painting
Woodhouse Farm has gone on sale for £500,000. It's a beautiful home in itself, set within the North York Moors national park. However, the lucky buyer could be snapping up the bargain of a lifetime, because there's thought to be a £1 million painting hidden somewhere inside.
The painting is of Jesus Christ, by the Renaissance master Sebastian del Piombo. It was bought by a retired cloth merchant called George Baxter in 1930, and in 1933 he put it on display at Middlesbrough Library for three weeks. Baxter then went on to live at Woodhouse Farm, and was still there when he died in 1959. It's thought he had the painting with him.
However, after his death, the house and outbuildings were boarded up, and there was no sight of the paintings. Since they have been reopened, no subsequent owner has tracked it down.
If the new owner can find the painting, it would be an impressive discovery. However, short of ripping up every floorboard and knocking holes in every wall it's hard to see how they might find it.
Fortunately even if the myth of the painting doesn't come up trumps, then the buyer can console themselves that they have a lovely house for their money. The three-bedroom 18th century farmhouse is also set in ten acres of woods and grasslands, so would make a perfect getaway cottage - or a full-time home.
It seems ludicrous to expect a valuable artwork to be lurking behind the wall in the kitchen, but it has happened before. We reported last spring on the couple in Wales who knocked down a partition wall and discovered a poster advertising the Titanic hidden behind it. It was valued at £3,000.
Then there was the couple in the US who were remodelling the kitchen and under the cabinet they found a safe - containing $51,080 and, a rare bottle of Bourbon. They posted a photo of their find online, and offered to return the money. They said, however, that they would be keeping the whisky.
So who knows what could be lurking inside your home.