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As a leading art historian, Christopher Wright has uncovered several old master paintings in public and private collections over five decades. Now he has discovered that a copy of a painting by Sir Anthony van Dyck, which he bought for himself for £65 in 1970, may actually be an original by the 17th-century Flemish court painter to King Charles I.

“I bought it from a jobbing dealer in west London,” he said. “I was buying it as a copy, as an art historian. I took no notice of it, in a strange way. The syndrome is the cobbler’s children are the worst shod. So the art historian’s collection is the least looked at.” Wright estimated the painting might be worth around £40,000, although some Van Dycks have fetched seven-figure sums.