A towering 6-ton painting depicting the Battle of Gettysburg was sold recently in North Carolina after decades in storage, and it could resell quickly for more than $10 million (EUR7.37 million).
The 376-foot-long (115-meter-long) cyclorama depicting the bloodiest battle of the U.S. Civil War is meant to be displayed in a round room to give viewers the feeling they are there.
"When I saw it, I just about died. I was almost enraptured into it," said Larry D. Laster, a Winston-Salem fine arts dealer. "Everyone who has seen it has said the same thing, that you're dragged into the painting. And that's while it's lying on the ground."
Winston-Salem artist Joe King knew of the cyclorama's existence and spent 30 years searching for it. He found it in 1965 behind the wall of a burned-out Chicago warehouse. King was unable to find a home for the massive painting and willed it to Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem when he died in 1996.
Laster said the painting was recently sold to three businessmen from North Carolina. He declined to name them or disclose how much they paid. Laster, who acted as the buyers' broker, said he expected the cyclorama to resell in the eight-figure range meaning $10 million (EUR7.37 million) or more.
The businessmen prefer to sell to an institution with the ability to publicly display the painting, which is about 22 feet (6.7 meters) high, but they are considering other offers, Laster said.
"We already have a few people interested," he said. "I feel quite confident that it will sell again very quickly."
Laster expects it to resell within six months despite the covenants that come along with the purchase, including that it be conserved as a single work and not broken into separate paintings.
The cyclorama is one of four created by French military artist Philippe Philippoteaux and a team of artists in the 1880s. Two are believed lost and the fourth has been on display at the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania but is being restored.
The painting recently sold in North Carolina, titled "The Battle of Gettysburg," is considered by art experts to be one of the most unusual pieces of American art in history. It depicts the battle of Gettysburg on July 3, 1863, the day of Pickett's Charge.
The work was originally displayed in Chicago in 1883. It was last displayed in public in 1933, at the Century of Progress International Exposition in Chicago.
After he bought the painting, King had the 14 rolls on which it had been stored unrolled on the Bowman Gray football field. The goal posts had to be removed to make room.
"There should be no Russian who goes to sleep without wondering if they're going to get their throat slit in the middle of the night,” Milley said