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The E-Sylum:  Volume 11, Number 5, February 3, 2008, Article 29

AN ART COLLECTOR'S DREAM: A MASTERPIECE FILLED HOME

[While not numismatic, this is a story of a frugal librarian
is something many collectors can relate to (and fantasize
about). -Editor]

>From the outside it's an ordinary, red-brick house in a
terraced row, not unlike tens of thousands of others
scattered across Britain.

But on the inside, Jean Preston's spartan Oxford home
contained works of art of international significance,
carefully acquired over a lifetime and haphazardly displayed.

Preston, a thrifty 77-year-old spinster who rode the bus
and ate frozen meals, died in 2006. But art experts and
auctioneers have now completed the sale of the exceptional
works hoarded in her modest home.

The auctions have raised an estimated 4 million pounds
($7.95 million), according to valuers, about 20 times the
price of the house they were kept in, stunning experts and
Preston's relatives alike.

Among the treasures were two paintings by Fra Angelico,
the 15th century Italian Renaissance master, that were
the missing pieces of an eight-part altar decoration.

They were sold together for $3.4 million and are expected
to be returned to the Uffizi Gallery, Florence's famed
art museum.

"We knew we were going to a house that contained some
important works," Guy Schwinge of Dukes art auctioneers
in Dorchester, which helped with the sale, told Reuters.

"But I was amazed to see quite how many treasures there
were ... The Fra Angelicos were behind the bedroom door
and we only spotted them on the way out."

Hanging in the kitchen was a 19th century watercolor by
pre-Raphaelite artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and in the
sitting room, above an electric fire, a work by
Sir Edward Burne-Jones.

Those two, estimated to be worth $2 million, have been
saved for Britain and are expected to go on display at
Oxford's Ashmolean Museum, Schwinge said.

Another hidden treasure was a rare edition of the works
of Chaucer that was too big to fit on Preston's bookshelf
and was found buried in a wardrobe. It sold for nearly
$150,000.

Preston, who worked as a librarian for much of her life,
inherited many of the works from her father, a keen collector.
Her relatives were stunned by the artworks she had tucked away.

To read the complete article, see:
Full Story

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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