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"Turquin Caravaggio": Not Toulouse, but Fifth Avenue

Published on , by Carole Blumenfeld

In the end, the "Turquin Caravaggio" was not put on sale at the Toulouse Corn Exchange on Thursday as planned. In the late afternoon of Tuesday 25 June, the Marc Labarbe auction house and the Turquin company announced that the painting would be sold to a foreign buyer in a private transaction.

Michelangelo Merisi, aka Caravaggio (1571-1610), Judith and Holofernes (ca. 1607),...
Michelangelo Merisi, aka Caravaggio (1571-1610), Judith and Holofernes (ca. 1607), oil on canvas, 144 x 173.5 cm.

This sale is covered by a confidentiality clause, meaning that the painting, with an estimated worth of €100-150 M, has been sold for a price that shall remain secret. On Tuesday, Éric Turquin only revealed one piece of information to the press: the buyer was a "collector connected with a major museum.”
According to our sources, this lucky collector seems to be J. Tomilson Hill, who has close links with not only the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where he sits on the Board of Trustees, but also the Frick Collection, where he presented his collection of bronzes in 2014. In February this year, Janine and Tom Hill opened the Hill Art Foundation, on 24th Street, intended to exhibit their collections. Now it seems likely that this Judith beheading Holofernes could be presented in the Metropolitan Museum of Art's new European Painting galleries, due to open in a few months' time. This Old Master "skylights" project is one of the spearheads of Keith Christiansen's policy. Another project was also dear to John Pope-Hennessy, Chairman of the European Painting Department. In January, the Gazette published an interview that took place in June 2017, when he told us he had never had any doubts as to the Caravaggio attribution. His desire to exhibit the painting at the Metropolitan Museum one day was an open secret. It just needed a collector who shared the same vision… Tom Hill.

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