June 29 (UPI) -- A long-lost painting by Fragonard sold for $9 million after it was found in the possession of a family who had no idea it was a work by the French master.
Antoine Petit, an auctioneer at the Encheres Champagne auction house in Epernay, said he was called to assess a family inheritance at an apartment in Marne, and a dust-covered painting hanging on the wall caught his eye.
Petit examined the painting and found Fragonard's name written on the back in black ink, which led him to have it assessed by experts with Paris-based Cabinet Turquin.
The experts verified the painting was A Philosopher Reading by Fragonard.
Petit said the family who owned the painting, which dates from 1768-1770, told him it had been passed down through multiple generations for about 200 years, and the current owners did not know the identity of the artist.
The auction house said the painting sold for $9.1 million. The identity of the buyer was not released.