London, Dec 4 : An Italian masterpiece featuring a semi-naked woman, consigned to an attic for 200 years, has sold for 2.84m pounds at an auction in London.
Giambattista Tiepolo's artwork, Portrait of a lady as Flora, had been hidden in the attic of a French chateau since the 19th Century, and was expected to sell off for 900,000 pounds at the Christie's sale.
It has been assumed that the reason the picture was kept hidden in the attic by the seller's grandparents because it shows a woman baring her naked breast.
Richard Knight, international director of Christie's Old Master Department, said the sales were proof that while the credit crunch may be hitting some art auctions, there was still a demand for rare works.
Canaletto's masterpiece The Grand Canal, Venice sold for 3.85m pounds at the same auction, but a second failed, dashing hopes of the two masterpieces, both views of Venice, would fetch a combined 11m pounds.
"We are pleased with the results of the auction which attracted strong and committed bidding for rare and exceptional pictures, and which illustrated a continuing demand for works of art which are privately sourced and fresh to the market," the BBC quoted Knight as saying.
"Tiepolo's rediscovered masterpiece drew significant international interest from collectors and admirers alike, and attracted determined bidding this evening before selling to a client in the room for 2.84m pounds, far exceeding its pre-sale estimate.
"We are also pleased with the result of Canaletto's view of the Grand Canal which was offered for sale for the first time having passed by family descent since it was commissioned in 1738," he added.