Friday, 4 December 2009

Rubens' Mystery Woman

I often wonder what persuades the BBC to give an art auction a free plug when it isn't supposed to be involved in commercial advertising. Take this unfinished and rather uninspiring portrait of an unknown woman by Sir Peter Paul Rubens, which comes up for auction in Sotheby's London evening sale of Old Master and British paintings on 9 December. Its estimated price tag of £6m hardly makes it newsworthy. And the centuries old mystery of the identity of the woman isn't going to be solved by this auction. Spanish lady or courtesan? The answer wouldn't have readers of The News of The World frothing with excitement. So why should the BBC advertise this sale? Could it be that one of the BBC fat cats gets a backhander for doing so? Surely not!


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