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UK Places Temporary Export Ban In Attempt to Acquire $14M Bellotto Painting

The U.K. government has placed a temporary export ban on a masterpiece by Bernardo Bellotto, in an attempt to keep the work within the country.

The work in question is View of Verona with the Ponte delle Navi (1745-47) by Bellotto, which was sold in a Christie’s evening sale last year for £10.6 million ($14.6 million). This was the second-highest price fetched by an Old Masterwork in 2021.

However, after the advice of the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest (RCEWA) committee, the government placed a temporary ban on the export of the painting. According to the government, the painting was a vital part of Bellotto’s profile career and hence, an important cultural heritage of the country. As such, the ban was placed until August 3 for any UK museum or gallery to buy the work. The price set by the government is £11.244 million ($14.7 million), which includes VAT. At the end of the deferred period, the buyers of the painting would have the chance to choose among the offers for the painting, if any.

Bernardo Bellotto was born in Venice, though he started his career in London. ‘View of Verona..’ was actually the first of his work to be sold in Britain, in 1771. The six-foot-wide work is widely considered a turning point in Bellotto’s career. After the painting’s sale, the artist travelled across Italy and acquired the patronage of the King of Sardinia.

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Speaking of the painting, Stephen Parkinson (Art Minister, England): “This rare painting is a masterpiece for its impressive scale and striking composition. [The work would make] an exceptional addition to any U.K. gallery, and I sincerely hope a buyer comes forward to save the work for the nation.”