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Until recently, the piece hung on a wall in the home of an unsuspecting elderly woman in northern France. The painting fetched about five times more than its initial estimate.
This photo taken last month shows the painting by the late 13th century Florentine artist Cenni di Pepo, also known as Cimabue, shortly after its discovery
A masterpiece by the Italian painter Cimabue sold for €24 million ($26.6 million) at an art auction on Sunday in Paris.
The painting known as "Christ Mocked" was discovered in a French woman's kitchen in September and had been valued at between €4-6 million before it went under the hammer.
The auction house, Acteon, did not reveal the name of the successful bidder, but it said a foreign museum had been among those bidding for the long-lost painting.
The woman, who is in her 90s, had decided to sell her house in Compiegne in northern France and hired an auctioneer to look through her home's contents in case there were items of value.
After selling her home, Philomene Wolf said she had only a week to have the goods appraised by an expert. "I had to make room in my schedule … if I didn't, then everything was due to go to the dump," Wolf told the French daily Le Parisien.
The painting, which measures about 10 inches by 8 inches (24 by 20 centimeters), was in excellent condition although it had been covered in grime, having hung above a cooking hotplate.
The masterpiece attributed to Cimabue, who is regarded as the father of the Renaissance, is dated at around 1280. Experts at the Turquin gallery, which examined the painting, concluded with "certitude" that it bore the hallmarks of the Italian artist.
jsi/stb (AP, AFP)