Portraits that used to hang on the walls of Warwick
Castle are to be sold as part of an auction of Old Masters at Sotheby’s.
The collected artworks - estimated to be worth in excess of £5 million - are owned by the 9th Earl of Warwick, Guy Greville, who now lives in Australia.
They are due to go under the hammer at a sale in London on July 9.
It was back in 1978 that the Greville family sold their castle to Madame Tussauds, now part of Merlin Entertainments. Many treasures were left although others, more controversially, were sold off.
The Old Masters about to go on sale were kept in the family and inherited by the 9th earl. They include a portrait of Edward Montagu by George Romney, which alone is estimated to be worth between £2 and £3 million; a portrait of the second Earl of Rochester by Jacob Huysmans (estimate £400,000 to £600,000); and The School Boy by Sir Joshua Reynolds (£300,000 to £500,000).
Most of the paintings were collected during the late 18th century by the 2nd earl, George Greville, whose impeccable taste was said to have seriously depleted the family fortunes.
But will the Merlin Group - which also owns Alton Towers, Sea Life, Legoland at Windsor and The London Eye - be in the market for buying back any artwork?
Despite news of a 12 per cent revenue growth across the entertainment group as a whole, so far this year, Warwick Castle’s general manager Geoff Spooner thinks not.
He said: “We have a significant number of paintings that represent the many ages of the castle and do not feel the need, at this time, to purchase any more.”
As well as some “incredible period paintings” Mr Spooner pointed out that the recreated castle interiors also house well-preserved furniture and authentic suits of armour.
A child’s suit of armour on show in the Great Hall is now believed to have been created for the future King Charles I.