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Last Updated: Friday, 1 December 2006, 10:09 GMT
'Hidden' Rockwell sold for 7.9m
Norman Rockwell's Breaking Home Ties
Works by the late Norman Rockwell are hugely popular in the US
The original of a Norman Rockwell painting found behind a fake wall has fetched a record $15.4m (7.9m).

Breaking Home Ties by the US artist was first sold to cartoonist Donald Trachte in 1960 for $900 when the two were neighbours in Vermont.

But Mr Trachte made a replica of the painting and hid the genuine piece in a cavity in his studio.

The original was discovered by Mr Trachte's sons after he died last year and sold at Sotheby's in New York.

In April, David and Donald Trachte Jnr noticed a strange gap in the wall of a room in their late father's house.

Secret switch

They gave it a shove and the wall slid open to reveal the real Rockwell along with other paintings.

Mr Trachte apparently kept the switch a secret, and his sons believe he made the copy to prevent his wife - whom he divorced in the early 1970s - from claiming the 1954 work.

"I think he just wanted to tuck these in the wall for his kids," Donald Trachte Jnr said at the time of the discovery.

Experts and Mr Trachte's family were confused by apparent inconsistencies between a version of the painting which appeared on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post in 1954, and the canvas they assumed was the original.

Poor preservation and sloppy restoration work were blamed until the discovery of the real painting solved the mystery.

Rockwell's paintings are popular in the US. The most paid for a piece before Thursday's auction was $9.2m (4.7m) - in May this year.

Rockwells recovered from Brazil
13 Dec 01 |  Entertainment

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