A forgotten masterpiece may have surfaced at a Leicestershire auction house after being mistaken for a copy.
The painting will be examined before any authentication
Gilding's of Market Harborough described the painting of a black clad man as "18th century continental school" with an estimate of £300-£500.
But on the day a bidding war pushed the price to £205,000.
The buyer is believed to be from the London art trade and the picture is suspected of being by 16th Century artist Titian and worth upwards of £5m.
The seller was an unidentified woman who bought it in 1974 during a house clearance in the village of Great Glen, Leicestershire, following the death of the property's owner.
Mark Gilding, who runs the firm, said: "We inspected the painting, which was from a local private seller, and decided it was a copy, hence the conservative price tag.
"On the day of the sale it was clear there was a good deal of interest in the painting and the atmosphere in the auction room during the bidding was tense and exciting."
But he declined to describe his feelings on finding the painting may be worth millions of pounds.
Some art experts have now said the work is likely to have been painted by Titian in Venice between 1510 and 1520.
It will be subject to restoration and study before it is authenticated.