He bought it a dozen years ago at a local antiques shop to help brighten up a Derbyshire retreat home run by his church.
But when he tried to sell it to buy church bells, the Roman Catholic priest was told by an art expert that the painting, the “Magistrate of Brussels,” in a large gold varnished frame that he’d bought for about $575 at the time, was the work of the great 17th-century Flemish artist Anthony Van Dyck.
“It’s been an emotional experience and it’s such great news,” the Rev. Jamie MacLeod said after being told the painting was valued at about $660,000.
MacLeod said selling the painting was “a very difficult decision” but that it would help him with his ambition to install new church bells to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.