Two portraits by Dutch master Rembrandt van Rijn may leave France as the cash-strapped state and the Louvre both cite a lack of funds to retain them.
Owned by French banker and wine-making baron Eric de Rothschild, the pair of masterworks may be sold abroad for as much as 150 million euros ($163 million). The portraits of Marten Soolmans and his fiancee Oopjen Coppit had been in the Rothschild collection since the mid-19th century.
A French law states major artworks can’t leave the country without the state’s permission, but state funds were not offered for the works. “The state must have the necessary financial capacity to buy any proposed art works,” and as “the purchase was seen to be difficult, the ministry along with the museum, allowed the export,” an official at the Louvre museum said in an e-mail. “In this particular case, a purchase was unthinkable.”