BHM Home and Estate Services Blog
Courtesy of NY Post
By Tamar Lapin
January 16, 2018
Three brothers in New Jersey, and a keen-eyed German art aficionado, made a killing from the sale of a small painting gathering dust in a Teaneck basement — that turned out to be an early work by the 15th-century Dutch master Rembrandt.
The Landau brothers, Ned, Roger and Steven, of Teaneck held onto a couple of their mother’s belongings after she died, including some valuables they didn’t want to give away — such as a silver tea set, china and a small painting that had hung in their dining room for decades.
“It was of a woman passed out in a chair, and two men trying to revive her. As a kid I thought, ‘Why did we have a painting like that in our dining room?’” Ned Landau told the Fox Business show “Strange Inheritance.”
Roger Landau, who was storing the boxes of valuables under a ping-pong table in his basement, put off getting the items appraised for a couple of years.
Finally he called John Nye, an estate sale appraiser, who valued the silver pieces at a couple thousand dollars and the painting at a couple hundred.
“It had varnish that had cracked and paint loss. Not a beautiful painting and the people in the picture were not beautiful people. It was remarkably unremarkable,” he said.
The brothers didn’t even bother to show up for the estate auction in 2015 and were completely unaware that the painting was heating up the room.
“All of a sudden it’s at $5,000 and man, that happened in no time,” said Nye.
After a bidding war between a French and German buyer, the work ended up selling to the German bidder for $1.1 million.
The buyer revealed the oil painting was “The Unconscious Patient (An Allegory of the Sense of Smell).”
“I’ve been looking for this painting my whole adult professional career,” the unnamed buyer said.
Turns out the Landaus’ grandfather had unknowingly purchased the painting from an equally clueless seller at an estate auction before the Great Depression.
The bidder ended up reselling the work for $4 million
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