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Man finds ‘lost’ $244 million Caravaggio painting in his loft

A man found a 'lost' $244 million Caravaggio painting in his loft - and it sold before auction. Source: Getty

A Toulouse man scheduled in a day of spring cleaning to clear his loft back in 2014, and finished up $244 million richer after he stumbled upon a painting by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio.

The painting ‘Judith and Holofernes’ was identified by art expert Eric Turquin as a lost work of Caravaggio believed to have been painted around 1607.

“This is the greatest painting I've ever found," Turquin told CNN.

A technician works on the hanging of a painting believed by some experts to be Caravaggio's "Judith Beheading Holofernes" for its public presentation at the Marc Labarbe auction house on June 16, 2019 in Toulouse before it goes under the hammer next June 27, five years after it was discovered in the attic of an old house in Toulouse. Source: Getty

"It's very violent. It's almost unbearable. But he's an artist who embodies the text -- he makes the text living."

After its discovery, French authorities put an export ban on the art, citing its importance to the art world, and it was set to be auctioned off today for an expected price of €150 million (AU$244 million).

But instead, an anonymous buyer described as “someone close to an important museum” fetched the painting for a secret price - the details of which are under a confidentiality agreement.

Auctioneers said the painting would “consequently be leaving French soil,” but it was confirmed the painting would soon be displayed in an “important” museum.

"We received an offer that could not be ignored and which we communicated to the owners of the painting,” Turquin said in a statement.

“The fact that the offer came from someone close to an important museum convinced the sellers to accept.”

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