An 1824 painting by John Constable sold for 22.4 million pounds, or about $35 million, at a Christie's auction in London this week. The hefty price tag represents a record for the English artist, but perhaps even more interesting is the family drama behind the high-profile art sale.
The Times' World Now blog reports that Spain's Baroness Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza was forced to sell "The Lock" due to difficult economic times. The painting had previously hung in Madrid's Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, which was founded by the baroness' late husband, a Swiss industrialist.
The baroness told the Spanish newspaper El Pais that "I need the money -- I really need it. I have no liquidity. Keeping the collection here is costly to me, and I get nothing in return."
"The Lock" depicts a rural English countryside setting, with a man working a lock of a canal.
The sale has drawn criticism from a member of the baroness' family as well as a board member of the museum, who resigned in protest, according to a Reuters report. A stepdaughter of the baroness was quoted in the British press saying that her stepmother "has shown absolutely no respect for my father and is simply putting her own financial needs above everything else."