After rotting in a basement since 1925, Yale University has discovered that a lowly, unsigned painting received as a donation is actually a work by Diego Velazquez. The painting, "The Education of the Virgin," was over 300 years old and in very poor condition when it was donated, and Yale threw it in with the rest of the artifacts they deemed unfit to put on public display. But in 2002, the Yale University Art Gallery was preparing for renovations, and the painting caught the eyes of curator Laurence Kanter and art historian John Marciari. Marciari told Bloomberg.com, "One day it hit me. It couldn’t have been more obvious. That’s early Velazquez."
Marciari spent years consulting with other experts to determine whether the painting was in fact a work by the 17th-Century Baroque artist. Though they can't prove beyond a doubt that it is a Velazquez, Marciari said, "We did find the pigments and the canvas are all consistent with what Velazquez used when he was in Seville in the first years of his career." The work was painted in 1617, but damaged by the 1626 flood of Seville. Kanter says it will be ready for public viewing at Yale in about two years.
Though Kanter says the work will never leave Yale, the school could earn a pretty penny if it were put up for auction. Another Velazquez work went for $17 million at an auction in London in 2007.