The rare masterpiece by Italian early Renaissance master Cimabue that was discovered in a French kitchen was sold on Sunday for 24 million including fees, the Acteon auction house announced.
It did not identify the winning bidder for the 14th-century painting, "Christ Mocked", at the sale in Senlis, outside Paris, for nearly five times the estimate of between €4 million and €6 million.
"Christ Mocked," by the 13th-century artist also known as Cenni di Pepo, was expected to be France's biggest art sale of the year, and it hasnt disappointed.
Art experts at Turquin in Paris used infrared reflectology to confirm that the tiny unsigned work, just 26 by 20 centimetres (10 by 8 inches), is part of a larger diptych from 1280, when Cimabue painted eight scenes of the passion and crucifixion of Christ.
Only two other elements of the diptych are known to exist: "The Flagellation of Christ" at the Frick in New York, and "The Virgin and Child with Two Angels" at the National Gallery in London.
The "Virgin" was valued at 7.5 million euros when it was given to the museum in 2000 in lieu of inheritance taxes by a British aristocrat who found it while cleaning out his ancestral seat in Suffolk.
According to the Art Newspaper the painting was discovered in June by the auctioneer Philomène Wolf during a house clearance in the nearby town Compiegne, north of Paris.
“It was considered special by the family, but they thought it was an icon,” Wolf says. “I am so lucky. I am at the beginning of my career, and you can wait an entire lifetime before making such a discovery.”