A painting titled The Crowning with Thorns and attributed to the circle of Jose de Ribera (17th century) was going to be auctioned this Thursday at the Casa Ansorena in Madrid for a starting price of 1,500 euros. However, the canvas has been removed from the catalog because it could be a bombshell: the Behold the man de Caravaggio made around 1605 for Cardinal Massimo Massimi. The Spanish State, according to the Italian newspaper The Republic, has blocked the sale for the piece to be studied further.
The news has made several specialists in the artist and his work have come out to express their opinion. One of them has been the veteran critic and historian of Italian art Vittorio Sgarbi. He does believe that the 111 x 86 centimeter oil on canvas was painted by Caravaggio and whose price could be “between 100 and 150 million euros, and [el propietario] it is sold to a private investor, or for 40 or 50 million if it is sold to the Prado Museum, “he said to Corriere della Sera.
The attribution of this painting to Caravaggio is not only supported by the experience of the expert, and of others such as Professor Maria Cristina Terzaghi. Also in the interpretation of an autograph note by the artist himself signed on June 25, 1605: “I, Michel Angelo Merisi da Caravaggio, oblige myself to appear before the illustrious Massimo Massimi for have been paid for a painting of value and greatness like the one I already made of the coronation of Crixto (sic) “.
However, other specialists such as Nicola Spinosa, who has published numerous studies on Neapolitan painting between the 15th and 19th centuries, discusses the attribution: “It is not a Caravaggio. It is thought that it may be because the figure in the foreground replicates the Behold the man from the Prato Museum attributed to Caravaggio by Mina Gregori and of which there is a copy. In my opinion, the painting is of a caravaggieso high quality, but not from Ribera. You cannot speak names of this importance; if it were from Ribera, its price would start at 200,000 euros, not 1,500 “.
The last canvas attributed to Caravaggio to hit the market was the mysterious Judith y Holofernes found in 2014 in an attic in Toulouse, southern France. The painting was sold to an anonymous collector, allegedly linked to a large museum, for an undetermined price, which could range between 100 and 150 million euros.