A drawing bought for as little as $30 (£22) can be worth as much as $50 million (£37 million).
The drawing in question was bought in 2016 by an anonymous man in his sixties at a home sale in Concord, Massachusetts, USA.
It sat in his home for a few years until Clifford Schorer, an American Old Masters specialist and senior partner at London art dealer Agnews, came across it.
To his surprise, he thought he could have looked at an original by the 16th-century German Renaissance artist Albrecht Dürer.
Speaking to The Art Newspaper, he said: “It was an incredible moment when I saw the Dürer.
“It was either the greatest forgery I’ve ever seen – or a masterpiece.”
Over the next two years, experts tried to authenticate it, and they did so by determining that Dürer’s “AD” monogram was marked in the same ink as the drawing—which he did with more than 20 other works between 1501 and 1514.
The drawing also featured a trident and ring watermark, seen on more than 200 sheets used by Dürer.
The unknown drawing, which is titled The Virgin and Child with a Flower on a Grassy Bench (1503), is considered a preliminary sketch for The Virgin among a multitude of animals.
The drawing was in the collection of architect Jean-Paul Carlhian, who died in 2012, followed three years later by his wife Elizabeth.
The family believed the drawing to be a 20th-century reproduction, and Carlhian’s daughters jokingly said to the buyer when selling the house, “Oh, so you want the Dürer?”
Schorer negotiated a deal with the buyer before it was authenticated and got a $100,000 (£75,000) advance that he has used to pay off his credit cards, reroof his house, buy a new car and make a generous donation to his church, according to The Times.
The drawing is currently on display at Agnews Gallery in London until December 12, but the intention is to sell it eventually.
Schorer believes the drawing ‘could fetch a record price’ of about $50 million – so it’s worth keeping your eyes peeled the next time you’re in the car boot (and learning a lot about how to get works by great German Renaissance artists). can identify).