An Aylesbury man believes a painting he bought for £110 could be one of Édouard Manet’s last works – and worth up to £100 million.
Rad Novakovic picked up the painting when it was being sold with another work at London’s Southgate Auction Rooms four years ago.
He has been researching the piece ever since and is now convinced it was completed by the French painter as a self portrait in the final months of his life in 1883.
So confident is Mr Novakovic of the painting’s authenticity that he is keeping it under lock and key at an undisclosed London location.
Mr Novakovic, who collects art as a hobby, said: “When it was auctioned they might not have realised what it was because they don’t have the time to do the proper research.
“I’m not a professional but I have got a lot of knowledge on art and I have spent the time doing the research.
“When I first suggested it was a Manet I was given all the arguments why it shouldn’t be one, so I have had to go out and prove why it is. After four years of research, every box is being ticked.”
Mr Novakovic says there are a number of elements to the painting which have convinced him of its authenticity.
These include two faint signatures on different parts of the painting and a date of ‘83, the ‘scraping’ found underneath the portrait that is typical of Manet and the ratio between the height and width of the canvass.
But the Bedgrove father believes the ‘key to the door’ is the pigment used in the paint, which he hopes can be matched to Manet’s other works at the time.
In 2010 a Manet self portrait sold for £22m, but Mr Novakovic believes his find could be worth more than four times as much.
He said: “If it is one of his last works it could be worth £100m. The style of it proves he is the father of modern art and it would make the prices of all Manet paintings go up.
“It’s not about the money. It’s about the national interest. If I could get a 10% finder’s fee I would be happy with that.”
Earlier this year the Aylesbury community helped raised hundreds of thousands of pounds in a matter of days to send Rad’s son, Alex, to America for life-saving cancer treatment.
Mr Novakovic says if he is able to prove the authenticity of his painting he would be more than happy to repay the community for what they did for Alex.
Mr Novakovic said: “If I got £10m for it I’m happy to give £2m to the community because they helped us.
“If it can go to good causes then that’s great.
“I would also want to make sure Alex has the right treatment for the future and buy us a family home because we rent at the moment.”
Mr Novakovic says he just needs an expert to take a serious look at the painting.
He said: “People don’t want to commit because if it’s not real they’re associated with it.
“I want people to look at it for what it is and take it seriously.”