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Wednesday, 17 July, 2002, 12:11 GMT 13:11 UK
Thomson linked to Rubens sale
Massacre Of The Innocents
Mystery surrounds the buyer of the masterpiece
Canadian media baron David Thomson has reportedly been named as the buyer of the Rubens masterpiece Massacre Of The Innocents.

The painting was sold at auction in London last week for a record 49.5 million.

The 44-year-old chairman of the Thomson Newspaper Group is said to have outbid Los Angeles' J Paul Getty Museum during the auction at Sothebys.

He reportedly bought the work by the 17th Century Flemish painter for his father, Lord Thomson of Fleet.

Two sources close to Mr Thomson - picture framer Paul Mitchell and art expert Samuel Fogg told Thomson's flagship newspaper, Toronto's Globe and Mail, that he was the buyer.

People should be looking at its significant, its importance, its strength.

David Thomson

Mr Thomson has so far refused to confirm this but did tell the paper, "Whoever bought it, the price is irrelevant. People should be looking at its significant, its importance, its strength."

However, Mitchell claimed that he would be meeting with Mr Thomson this week to discuss fitting a new frame to the masterpiece.

Fogg, meanwhile, is thought to have acted as Mr Thomson's agent during the auction, saying that the final price was higher than expected.

"I had considerable confidence that David and his father were prepared to fight for the piece," he told the Globe and Mail, "but how long is a piece of string?"
Sothebys
The auction broke records at Sothebys

Massacre of the Innocents, which dates back to the early 1600s, spent 80 years in an Austrian monastery before its sale.

For more than 200 years it was believed to have been a work by Rubens associate Jan Van Den Hoecke, until the owner took it to Sothebys for examination.

It was purchased on 10 July at the auction house, becoming the most expensive painting ever to be sold at a London auction.

The previous record holder, Van Gogh's Sunflowers, fetched $35 million (22 million) at auction in London in 1987.

See also:

11 Jul 02 | Arts
11 Jul 02 | Arts
11 Jul 02 | Arts
03 Apr 02 | Arts
28 Feb 02 | Arts
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