A mysterious man in his 80s has fought and won for years against the French Ministry of Culture for the right to sell. A rare painting of Saint Sebastian by Leonardo da Vinci What he inherited from his father, Artnet News reported on Tuesday.
The man, identified in court documents by the initials AB, approached the French government in 2016 seeking an export license to paint a two-sided painting of Saint Sebastian tied to a tree. On the back are notes and drawings related to Da Vinci’s study of light and shadow. He plans to sell his drawings at the TAJAN auction house in Paris.
French law requires sellers to obtain Export licenses It also grants the right to match any offer on a work for sale before it leaves France for highly valuable works of art and cultural objects considered to be of „national importance”.
The French Ministry of Culture initially denied the request for an export license on the grounds that the Da Vinci painting was a national treasure and offered to buy the work for €10 million ($10.6 million) on behalf of the Louvre. AB rejected the offer.
Later, the work was appraised by a pair of experts, one representing the Ministry and the other AB, and deemed to be worth approximately $15.6 million. The ministry chose not to pursue the map further, at least not in a traditional way. When AB applied for a new export license in 2021, then-culture minister Roslyn Bachlett sent AB a letter indicating the work was stolen and demanding proof that it was legally acquired.
Through a lawyer, AB contested the allegation in a letter to the ministry before re-applying for the export licence. The bachelor’s ministry ignored AP’s request, forcing him to seek an injunction through the court system, which compels the ministry to issue the certificate.
Last week, the court issued an injunction, requiring the ministry to issue an export license within 60 days and cover AP’s 2,000 euros ($2,120) in legal costs.
„Totalny pionier w sieci. Specjalista od piwa niezależny. Ewangelista popkultury. Miłośnik muzyki. Nieprzepraszający przedsiębiorca”.