Billionaire Tom Hill is said to be the buyer of the newly discovered Caravaggio.
Caravaggio, Judith and Holofernes, ca. 1607. Courtesy of Eric Turquin.
After days of speculation, several publications indicated that the collector who bought the rediscovered masterpiece by Caravaggio is J. Tomilson Hill, the former Blackstone CEO who this year opened a private museum in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood. The painting was expected to be sold in an auction where the opening bid was to be $34 million, and the sellers estimated the price could get as high as €150 million ($170.5 million). But before the auction was set to go down in Toulouse, France, Hill made an offer at an undisclosed price and the consignors decided to sell.
The painting, which depicts the beheading of Holofernes as described in the Book of Judith, was found in an attic of a family’s home in Toulouse in 2014; after years of restoration and scholarship, it was deemed by many experts to be a true work by the Baroque master. (Some cast doubts on its provenance, saying it could actually be a work by the Flemish painter Louis Finson.)
The New York Times did not receive confirmation from Hill that he was the buyer—he was “unavailable for comment”—instead citing “a person with knowledge of the sale.” They also revealed that the work may be lent to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, or the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where Hill sits on the board.