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'Possible Rubens' sells for 1,000 times starting price

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10:36 CET+01:00
A painting valued at just 15,000 kronor was sold at a Swedish auction house yesterday for a staggering 16.6 million kronor. It is the most expensive foreign painting ever sold in Sweden.

Prior to the auction is was assumed that the oil painting 'Allegoric scene - Diana with her entourage' was the work of a follower of Flemish Baroque master Peter Paul Rubens.

The painting belonged to an elderly couple from the Swedish west coast who had previously tried to sell the work locally with no great success.

The pair were in attendance yesterday when the supposedly derivative oil painting was sold at Uppsala Auktionskammare, Sweden's third largest auction house.

But is there any certainty that the painting is a real Rubens?

"Not really. The head curator at the National Museum in Stockholm doubts it," Anders Bengtsson, Uppsala Auktionkammare's director told The Local.

"But the buyers looked at it and made their own decisions," said Bengtsson.

As the bidding shot up way beyond the starting price, art aficionados around the world began to take an interest.

"We had six bidders in all, two in the sale room and four on the phone. There were bidders from France, Russia and England."

An Englishman who was present at the auction made the final successful bid. Nobody is quite sure whether he has landed himself the golden egg or a pricey turkey.

"We think it was a follower of Rubens," said Anders Bengtsson.

Only one other painting has ever commanded a higher price at a Swedish auction house.

"That was a Strindberg, which went for 22 million kronor in 1990," said Bengtsson.

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