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The rediscovered Degas in Barcelona was purchased in 2021 on internet for 926 euros

The usually placid waters of the art market in Spain were shaken to unexpected extremes in 2021 when a painting attributed to the circle of the painter Ribera (17th century) that was set to be auctioned in Madrid with a starting price of 1,500 euros turned out to be a Caravaggio. After being declared non-exportable by the Ministry of Culture, it was acquired two years later by an English patron for around 30 million euros. Around the same time, in December 2021, without attracting the attention of specialists, Todocolección put up for auction what was then believed to be a fake Degas painting, now named In Praise of Makeup, which was purchased by a collector from Barcelona for 926 euros. After being properly studied and authenticated, the estimation of its value in the current market could rise to between seven and eight million euros, according to sources close to the fortunate buyer. Others raise the possibility to twelve million.


‘In Praise of Makeup’


The news that the rediscovered Degas in Barcelona was sold on Todocolección in an auction with a starting price of one euro, revealed by El Punt Avui and confirmed by La Vanguardia, adds a new chapter to the tumultuous life of a painting. The rediscovery was anticipated on Sunday by this newspaper before its presentation on Tuesday at the Ateneo de Madrid, led by the expert and author of the online catalog of the impressionist painter, Michel Schulman. The research team, which also included art historian Judith Urbano, dean of the Faculty of Humanities at UIC, Álvaro Pascual from the University of Valladolid, and consultant Juan Arjona, explained the painting’s biography but omitted this latest chapter.

In Praise of Makeup was acquired in 1887 in Paris by the artist and writer Julián Bastinos directly from the painter for 3,000 francs. He later traveled with it to Cairo. After his death, it was repatriated to Barcelona by his brother, Antonio J. Bastinos, and hung in the family mansion in the Jardinets del Passeig de Gràcia, alongside another Degas, two Goyas, paintings by Nonell and Fortuny… until it was confiscated by the Republican Generalitat. It was then deposited in the monastery of Pedralbes and later exhibited in the building of the Pension Fund in Montjuïc, from where the National Artistic Heritage Defense Service (Sdpan), created by the Francoists, managed the returns between May 1939 and 1947. Still visible on its reverse is the label with the inscription “Recovered from the enemy,” dated the day after Franco’s troops entered Barcelona.

After the late Antonio J. Bastinos passed away, his widow asked a neighbor, Francisco Mario Ricart, to take care of his estate and gave him the power to sell it. This sale was completed in 1940 to the textile industrialist Joan Llonch Salas, who was also a patron and collector. Llonch Salas, who presided over the Banco de Sabadell and the Academy of Fine Arts in the Valles region, purchased the estate for 3,000 pesetas. In 2021, unable to verify its authenticity, Bastinos’ heirs sold the estate on the Todocolección platform, a marketplace specializing in the buying and selling of antique or collectible items. The starting price was 1 euro.