A $171 Million Painting Was Found in an Attic in Toulouse

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It’s the lost work of Italian master Caravaggio.

A really good day is walking up into the attic of your home to discover a storied painting no one truly knew existed. This is exactly what happened to one person in Toulouse, France, according to The Robb Report.

The painting in question is “Judith and Holofernes” by famous Italian artist Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio. The painting has been referenced in two letters—one in 1607 and another in 1617—which is what initially got the wheels turning in art dealers’ and enthusiasts’ heads. And they’ve just kept turning until its discovery in 2014.

It took five years to get art appraiser Eric Turquin in front of the painting for a real appraisal. It was confirmed by Turquin that the five-foot-tall, six-foot-wide work of art was indeed the masterpiece mentioned in the letters. There is a replica of the painting floating around out there, painted by Louis Finson. But there are a few ways we know this one is the real deal, according to CNN Style: "A copy is dry, and lacking energy," Turquin shared. The painting found in the attic was certainly energetic. The found painting also has evidence of alterations under the paint, showing that its painter changed their mind. "A copier just reproduces exactly what's in front of him," Turquin said in an interview with CNN.

The painting itself is quite graphic, depicting a scene from the Book of Judith out of the Old Testament that shows Judith seducing and then beheading an enemy general in Bethulia. It’s thought that the painting was once displayed in Antwerp in 1689, but since has collected dust and water damage in its hiding place.

The painting will be auctioned off on June 27, 2019 in Toulouse and the estimated value is currently placed at $171 million.