Long-Lost Rembrandt Painting Found in New Jersey Couple's Basement - NBC 7 San Diego
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Long-Lost Rembrandt Painting Found in New Jersey Couple's Basement

The auction house said it didn’t know the painting was a Rembrandt because it was so old and dusty

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    Long-Lost Rembrandt Painting Found in New Jersey Couple's Basement
    Courtesy of the Getty Museum
    Rembrandt's An Allegory of the Sense of Smell. The painting has been sold to American art collector Thomas Kaplan and is being put on display at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles.

    A painting found in a New Jersey basement last year turned out to be a long-lost Rembrandt painting, according to the auction house that sold it.

    The painting, later determined to be "An Allegory of The Sense of Smell" created by the artist in 1625, was found in a home in Bloomfield after the couple that owned the home died, according to Nye & Company, which sold the painting.

    The couple’s children didn’t want the painting, so they called Nye & Company to put it to auction.

    Rembrandt's An Allegory of the Sense of Smell
    Photo credit: Courtesy of the Getty Museum

    The auction house said it didn’t know the painting was a Rembrandt because it was so old and dusty that the artist’s signature was obscured. 

    Thinking it was a 19th century copy, appraisers valued the painting to be worth between $500 and $800, according to reports at the time. 

    But an art dealer knew better after bidding opened at $250 and ended up buying the painting for $870,000 before having it restored.

    The painting has since been sold to American art collector Thomas Kaplan and is being put on display at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles.

    "We are truly thrilled that the first museum to exhibit Rembrandt’s earliest known signed work, An Allegory of The Sense of Smell and its companions is the Getty," said Kaplan.

    The painting is part of a set of five works depicting the five senses. Three of the other paintings in the set are at other museums, and the fifth -- which depicts the sense of taste -- is still missing, according to the Getty Museum.