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Poland buys da Vinci painting at bargain price

December 30, 2016

Poland's government has finalized a deal to purchase an art collection that includes Leonardo da Vinci's "Lady with an Ermine." The government snagged the collection at a fraction of the market price.

London Gemäde Lady with an Ermine von Leonardo da Vinci
Image: Getty Images/AFP/C. Court

Poland's Culture Ministry announced on Thursday that it purchased a precious private art collection including a painting of a woman by Leonardo da Vinci.

The 1490 portrait of a young woman holding a white, short-tailed weasel is one of just four known paintings of women by the Renaissance master - another is the "Mona Lisa."

Polen Warschau Kauf des Gemäldes Lady with an Ermine von Leonardo da Vinci
Polish Culture Minister Glinski (L) said the government paid "a fraction of the market price"Image: Reuters/Agencja Gazeta/K. Atys

Poland's State Treasury bought the painting along with some 86,000 other objects from the private Czartoryski Foundation, which has been housing the collection in the southern Polish city of Krakow.

The collection also includes Rembrandt's "Landscape with the Good Samaritan," drawings by Renoir and some 250,000 manuscripts and other library items.

The Polish government paid just over 100 million euros ($105 million) for the collection that is worth an estimated 2 billion euros.

"It is a fraction of the market price of the collection," Piotr Glinski, Poland's minister of culture told journalists.

When asked by reporters why he was willing to accept such a low sum, the foundation's president and founder Adam Czartoryski said: "Listen, in life, you do the things the way you feel like it. I felt like making a donation and that's my choice."

The purchase is part of Poland's larger drive to nationalize important businesses and cultural artifacts.

"This ensures the right of the Polish nation to the collection," Glinski told journalists. "There is a difference between having something on deposit and being its owner."

rs/sms (AP, AFP, Reuters)