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Two detained in Turkey over attempted sale of painting, claimed to be lost work by Van Dyck

The sellers told undercover police that they had bought the work from a gang in Georgia

Two businessmen have been arrested and detained by Turkish authorities after they tried to sell an allegedly smuggled painting, claimed to be a lost work by Anthony van Dyck, to undercover police officers at a hotel rendezvous in Istanbul’s Topkapi neighbourhood.

As reported by the Hurriyet Newspaper, the businessmen said they had purchased the work—which they planned to sell for 14m lira ($4.6m)—for $200,000 from a gang in Georgia. The work was allegedly taken from a European private collection, and had passed through Russia and Georgia before its seizure by Turkish agents.

Although the Van Dyck attribution may appear optimistic based a press image of the painting of a female nude with two other figures, it has been deemed an original work by staff at Istanbul’s Museum of Painting and Sculpture. A further study by experts at the Mimar Sinan University Fine Arts Faculty is ongoing.