Sometimes it only takes an art appreciator's eye (plus forensic research and appraisals, of course) to identify a dusty attic antique as a multi-million dollar masterpiece. In corners of homes across the world, valuable paintings from masters such as da Vinci, Van Gogh, Rembrandt and Pollack have resurfaced and been verified as originals before selling at auction for record-breaking prices. Here are the top ten rediscovered artworks that were previously held in private collections.

10. Judith Beheading Holofernes, Caravaggio (c. 1600-10)

blog.php Judith Beheading Holofernes, Caravaggio. Oil on canvas, c. 1600-10

This 400-year-old canvas – depicting the beheading of Assyrian general Holofernes by Judith from the biblical Book of Judith – was found in 2014 when the owners of a house near Toulouse were investigating a leak in the ceiling.

Discovered in remarkably good condition, the work is believed to have been painted between 1600 and 1610 by Caravaggio and could be worth as much as $136 million according to specialists.

However, the origins of another Judith Beheading Holofernes (c. 1599 to 1602) have been contested after analysis by experts, as to whether it was truly painted by Caravaggio or Louis Finson, a 17th-century Flemish painter that faithfully followed his style. The same controversy surrounds this attic Caravaggio, with some believing it is genuine and others asserting that Caravaggio's singular intensity is missing.

That said, the French government has placed an export ban on the canvas until November 2018, so it remains to be seen what happens next.

9. Lost photographs of Paris, Eugène Atget

An important portfolio of 21 photographs by Eugène Atget, one of the founding fathers of modern photography, was thought to have been lost, until it was rediscovered almost by chance among the archives of the artist André Derain. Each of the works, dating from 1896, sold in 2016 for between $1,300 to $142,000, totaling $950,000.

Born in 1857, Atget first began taking photographs in 1890, documenting the architecture of Paris’ streets, from door handles to monuments, shop fronts and the public.

8. Untitled Gouache, Jackson Pollock (c. late-1950s-60s)

blog-2.php Untitled Gouache, Jackson Pollack. Gouache on canvas. Late 1950s-60s. Photo: Creators Vice

Unexpectedly discovered by Scottsdale-based auction house J. Levine Auction & Appraisal when investigating the value of a signed Kobe Bryant poster in an elderly Arizona homeowner's garage, this Jackson Pollack painting is currently estimated to be worth $10-$15 million.

The homeowner, an elderly man who was preparing to move out of his house into a retirement home, was the half-brother of Jenifer Gordon Cosgriff, a New York art connoisseur who was friends with Clement Greenberg, a modern art critic and Hazel Guggenheim McKinley, an artist and the sister of Peggy Guggenheim. After her death in 1993, her half-brother inherited her art collection, which in addition to the Pollack, included works by McKinley and Kenneth Noland.

Josh Levine of J. Levine Auction & Appraisal spent tens of thousands of dollars on verifying the painting as a Pollack and forensic scientists dated it to the mid-20th century.

The painting was planned to be auctioned with bids beginning at $5 million in June 2017, however the auction was postponed to an unconfirmed date due to ‘improper vetting and dropped bids’.

7. A folder of artworks and drawings, Marie Krøyer

blog-1.php Back Turned Female Model, Marie Krøyer. Charcoal on paper. Photo: Bruun Rasmussen

In 2002, a collection of about 60 previously unknown paintings and drawings by Danish artist Marie Krøyer was found in an attic in Dalarna, Sweden.

In 1962, Marie Krøyer’s daughter Vibeke inherited and gave the folder with drawings and paintings to a local craftsman. For nearly 40 years the folder was hidden in an attic, until it was found by chance. Based on its content, magister Tonni Arnold published the book The Art of Marie Krøyer’s Life in 2002. Prior to the discovery of the folder, only about 20 works from Marie Krøyer’s hand were known to exist.

Krøyer was a promising young artist who laid down her brushes shortly after she married the successful Danish Skagen painter, Peder Severin Krøyer in 1889. She instead became his most distinguished model and her beauty became famous throughout the country. The marriage became turbulent and she soon left Denmark for Tällberg, Sweden, taking her artworks, where she became the muse and wife of Swedish composer and painter Hugo Alfvén.

6. Julia, John William Godward (1914)

This previously unrecorded work is an important addition to the oeuvre of Victorian painter John William Godward. Painted in 1915, the painting may depict Julia Felix, an elegant Pompeii woman, and became part of the collection of Julia Sophia Winkelmeyer Straub, the daughter of wealthy St Louis brewer Julius Winkelmeyer. It was passed down through the family ever since before selling at Sotheby's in May 2017 for $1.1 million.

5. Sunset at Montmajour, Vincent Van Gogh (1888)

blog-4.php Sunset at Montmajour, Vincent Van Gogh. Oil on canvas, 1888

This Vincent Van Gogh landscape had been held in a Norwegian attic until 2013 before it was authenticated, following a two-year investigation, by the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. It is from what is arguably van Gogh’s greatest period when he lived in Arles, France, and created works such as The Yellow House and The Sunflowers. It is the first full-size work by the artist to be discovered since 1928. According to the International Business Times, Sunset at Montmajour is estimated to be worth $50 million.

6. Wild Bull Hunting (Bateng), Raden Saleh,  (1855)

blog-5.php Wild Bull Hunting (Bateng), Raden Saleh. Oil on canvas, 1855. Photo: The Jakarta Post

This painting by the first Indonesian modern master of the nineteenth century, Raden Saleh, Wild Bull Hunting (Bateng), was kept for many years in the cellar of a house in Auray, France before its discovery. In January 2018, it was sold for $8.2 million at auction in Vannes, a record price for a painting by the artist. Dating from 1855, this hunting scene was acquired by an anonymous collector from Jakarta.

3. The Unconscious Patient (An Allegory of the Sense of Smell), Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn,  (c. 1624)

blog-6.php The Unconscious Patient (An Allegory of the Sense of Smell), Rembrandt van Rijn. Oil on panel, c. 1624. Photo: The Getty

In the early 15th century, a teenage Rembrandt created a series of oil panels that each depicted one of the five senses. This work, painted in 1624, portrays an unconscious young man who’s being revived with what appear to be smelling salts ('smell').

The work sat in a New Jersey basement for years, and was estimated at just $500 to $800 when it came to the auction block at Nye and Company in Bloomfield, New Jersey. The bidding soared to $870,000 when two Paris art dealers, Bertrand Talabardon and Bertrand Gautier, who run Galerie Talabardon et Gautier, identified it as one of the Dutch master’s first canvases. The American billionaire Thomas S. Kaplan, CEO of New York investment and management firm Electrum Group, then bought the painting at a price reported in the range of US$3-4 million in 2016, and exhibited it at TEFAF with Sight, Sound and Hearing (Taste's whereabouts are unknown.)

2. Lucretia, Artemisia Gentileschi (c. 1630-45)

blog.php Lucretia, Artemisia Gentileschi. Oil on canvas, c. 1630-45. Photo: Dorotheum

Never auctioned before, this rediscovered masterpiece by Baroque painter Artemisia Gentileschi sold in October 2018 for $1.82 million – more than double its estimate. It was consigned from an aristocratic collection where it had been kept since the mid-19th century.

Gentileschi was known to paint strong and heroic women of Ancient and Christian mythology. She herself suffered sexual abuse and the subject matter of her paintings often reflected her life, as in this work which depicts Lucretia, a Roman noblewoman who was raped by the son of an Etruscan king. In her shame, she committed suicide by dagger.

1. Salvator Mundi, Leonardo da Vinci (c. 1500)

Painted by Leonardo da Vinci in 1500, Salvator Mundi was owned by a cache of British royalty until 1958 when it was sold at auction in Europe to a New Orleans couple, whose family inherited the painting in Louisiana. Then in 2005, the estate of the family patriarch came up for sale and Salvator Mundi was acquired for less than $10,000 at auction in New Orleans by a consortium of art dealers. It had been heavily overpainted so looked like a copy, and the consortium spent the next few years having the painting restored and authenticated.

In May 2013 the Swiss dealer Yves Bouvier purchased the work for just over $75 million, and the painting was then sold to Russian collector Dmitry Rybolovlev for $127.5 million. It was exhibited in Hong Kong, London, San Francisco and New York in 2017, and then sold at auction in Christie’s in New York on November 15, 2017 for $450,312,500, a new record price for an artwork.

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