Robert Warren is the executive director at the Hoyt Sherman Place art complex in Des Moines, Iowa. Just before Presidents Day weekend in 2016, he was looking around one of the storage closets when he came across and old painting. It was dingy, cracked and even had some water damage. The painting was an oil-on-wood piece depicting nude figures from Greek Mythology.
He discovered what he believed to be an auction sticker on the back of the painting, “Apollo and Venus” and began to research the beautiful painting. It turned out that the sticker was not from an auction, and it was actually a tag stating the picture had once hung in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. From there, he was able to trace the picture’s history from New York to the local Women’s Club, who had founded the gallery.
The piece had never been displayed due to it’s nude figures, which were deemed too suggestive. As he discovered more of the painting’s history which had likely been created between 1595 and 1600, he was astounded to learn it was by famed artist Otto van Veen, making the painting worth between $4 million and $11 million based on what his other work has sold for.
The gallery has no plans to sell the painting and has spent the last year reframing it and getting it restored to its former glory. The piece will go on display at the gallery as soon as their security is upgraded. No one expected this magnificent piece of art to be worth so much when it was found abandoned and neglected deep in that storage closet.