Painting bought for its frame could be $64.8m work by Cezanne

With the rise of antiques television shows, canny collectors have become aware that items stuffed into attics can sometimes - occasionally - be valuable. There might be rare vases or antique silver boxes or jewellery.

Or, just maybe, an original Cézanne worth an eight-figure sum.

Paul Cézanne was most famous for his still lifes - and for his place in art history, moving from Impressionism to Cubism. Matisse and Picasso are supposed to have described him as "father to us all".

How much the current owner of the painting, who lives in Northampton but has not released his name, knew about Cézanne is unclear - certainly not enough to spot one at first glance if it is as it now seems.

In fact, the painting of a small riverside house with an orange roof amongst some trees was bought not because the buyer thought it was anything special, but because he liked the frame. The painting itself was hidden under a great deal of dirt.

However, when they happened to be reading about the artist, certain similarities struck home, and he went to an auctioneer to ask their opinion, and then another for another. Neither believes it to be a fake.

If it is what it might be, it would actually be the earliest Cézanne known. The situation is comparable to that of the 'Michelangelo behind the sofa' we reported on last year.

One auctioneer has put an estimate on the 'Cézanne', which was bought for less than £100, if it is proved to be genuine: '…£40m easily'.

It's not clear how much of that would be for the frame.

Join our readers in over 200 countries around the world - sign up for your free weekly Collectibles Newsletter today 

Featured products

Elvis Presley Authentic Strand of Hair
Elvis Presley Authentic Strand of Hair
Sale price£399
In stock
Fidel Castro signed certificateFidel Castro Signed Certificate
Fidel Castro signed certificate
Sale price£2,995
In stock
King Henry VIII Autographed DocumentKing Henry VIII Autographed Document
King Henry VIII Autographed Document
Sale price£55,000
In stock