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‘Damn! This is a Caravaggio!’: the inside story of an old master found in Spain

Art dealer Giancarlo Ciaroni attempted to buy painting listed at €1,500 for €500,000 – but discovered bewildered owners already had two offers of €3m

It took all of six minutes for Massimo Pulini to realise that the small oil painting due to go under the hammer in Madrid earlier this month with a guide price of €1,500 (£1,300) could be worth millions.

At 9.48pm on 24 March, Pulini, a 63-year-old professor at the Bologna Fine Arts Academy, received an email request for an evaluation. Sent by an antiques dealer and friend of Pulini’s, it included a photo of a luminous oil painting of the scourged Christ.

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