Page last updated at 08:56 GMT, Thursday, 9 July 2009 09:56 UK

Constable fails to fetch reserve

Storm clouds over Hampstead
Sotheby's valued the painting between 300,000 and 500,000

A painting which a Sussex auction house originally valued at just £500, but was later authenticated as a Constable, has failed to sell at auction in London.

Sotheby's had expected Storm Clouds over Hampstead to fetch between £300,000 and £500,000, but it did not reach its reserve price.

The auctioneer said the reserve price remained confidential.

Its owner bought the John Constable work last year at Gorringes, which first valued it between £500 and £800.

He paid £24,000 at the sale in Lewes, before the painting had been authenticated, because he had had a "gut instinct" about its origin, Sotheby's said.

Gorringes believed the painting was done by a follower of Constable but experts at Sotheby's later confirmed it was by the painter himself.

Before Wednesday evening's auction, Sotheby's said the owner loved the painting and would keep it if it did not reach its reserve price.

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