The Daily Mail makes some hay out of the Church of England’s plan to sell a Francisco de Zurbaran set of 12 paintings at Sotheby’s:
Leaked documents show senior officials are acutely aware there could be a backlash if the 12 paintings that have hung in the historic home of the Bishops of Durham for 250 years disappeared into the hands of a ‘billionaire from Russia’.
The confidential documents also reveal the Church Commissioners, the Church’s financial arm, have hired a London public relations firm for up to £37,000 to handle the predicted outcry over the sale. […]
‘The Church Commissioners announced, in 2001, the decision in principle to sell the Zurbaran paintings. Subsequently, in 2005, a further decision was taken to keep the Zurbarans for the next five years and review the possibility of a sale in 2010. That review has taken place and the agreement in principle was reached once again to explore the possibility of a sale.’ […]
They were bought in 1756, reputedly from a pedlar, for £124 by a former Bishop of Durham, Richard Trevor, and have hung ever since in the long dining room at Auckland Castle, the imposing home of Bishops of Durham for 900 years.